| The Girish Park Reliance outlet after the Bloc raid
Calcutta/Chinsurah, Aug. 30: Police today identified two politicians allegedly responsible for attacks on yet-to-be-opened Reliance Fresh outlets and said they would be arrested in a day or two.
The move comes within 48 hours of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s assurance to Reliance Retail that his government would “pursue” the FIRs lodged against the culprits.
Cases have been started against Pankaj Mishra, who belongs to Left Front partner Forward Bloc, and Tapas Mukherjee, a Trinamul Congress councillor in Hooghly’s Uttarpara-Kotrang municipality.
They have been charged with rioting, unlawful assembly, and trespassing on and damaging Reliance properties.
“We have asked the police to immediately arrest the persons named in the FIRs. Any further attacks will also be firmly dealt with,” chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb told The Telegraph tonight.
Bloc supporters had smashed the glass front of a Reliance store in north Calcutta’s Girish Park on August 18. Mishra had allegedly led the raid, officer-in-charge of Girish Park police station Balai Kumar Sapui said.
“We have started specific cases against Mishra on the basis of an FIR and are on the lookout for him,” Sapui added.
Nihar Roychowdhury, who heads the Bloc’s Calcutta district committee, said Mishra would seek anticipatory bail in the Bankshal court tomorrow. “He is being falsely implicated,” he added.
The Bloc leader warned that party workers would continue to protest outside Reliance outlets.
The police, however, have not slapped “grave” charges on BJP activists who had “merely” hurled tomatoes, potatoes, wax gourds and brinjals at the five-storey outlet in Girish Park on August 26.
Trinamul councillor Mukherjee had led a demonstration at an under-construction Reliance outlet in Uttarpara’s Bhadrakali, about 15km from Calcutta, on August 19.
About 30 Trinamul supporters had stormed the outlet, shouting slogans against the entry of corporate giants in retail. They shoved the security guard out of the outlet and locked its shutters.
Inspector-in-charge of Uttarpara police station Prabir Roy said tonight that Mukherjee would be arrested “on specific charges”.
Trinamul leader Pinaki Dhamali, who heads the Uttarpara-Kotrang municipality, threatened a “sustained movement” in the district if the councillor was rounded up. “Mukherjee did not vandalise the Reliance property,” he said.
CPM state secretary Biman Bose said it was for the state government to decide how to allow retail outlets to run in the state.