The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Citu trouble at South City

Calcutta, Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day saw a flood of red in South City Mall, but not to celebrate love.

Citu supporters descended on the mall with red flags this evening to protest against the management’s decision to replace security guards caught sleeping on duty.

Shoppers and revellers, many of them dressed in red for the occasion, could not enter or leave the mall for about an hour.

S. Mehra, vice-president of mall operations, said some of the visitors were heckled, leading to a scuffle. The demonstrators hit the windscreen of a Hyundai Santro parked nearby.

“We had asked one of our security agencies to replace seven guards who were caught sleeping during duty hours. This is a high-security area and we can’t allow guards to sleep on duty,” Mehra said.

The CPM’s labour arm denied the charges of violence, but vowed to continue with the agitation. Gautam Banerjee, of the Citu-affiliated West Bengal Security and Workmen’s Union, said: “We didn’t stop anybody from entering or leaving the mall.”

Jayanta Roy, a shopper, had a different version. “We were trying to get out when a mob stood in our way. Some of us tried to force our way out and they pushed and shoved us,” he said.

The mall guards pushed the demonstrators away to make way for the shoppers. Police arrived around 6pm and dispersed the protesters. “We have promised all help to the mall,” said South 24-Parganas superintendent of police Ajey Ranade.

Citu leader Banerjee said: “The seven guards have not been allowed to work for two months and we can’t allow this.”

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