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CPM dares cops over rally site

The CPM has vowed to hold its October 1 rally “somewhere at Esplanade”, without any permission if need be, but not on Rani Rashmoni Avenue as suggested by police.

The party’s North 24-Parganas unit had wanted to hold the meeting in front of Victoria House, the site of Mamata Banerjee’s annual Martyr’s Day gathering, but the police denied permission on the ground that it would disrupt traffic.

Leaders said they turned down Rani Rashmoni Avenue as the venue because the turnout would be much bigger than what the spot could accommodate.

“Our October 1 meeting in Calcutta stands. The rally will be held in the Esplanade area. We won’t talk about the exact location now,” Amitava Nandi, a member of the CPM’s North 24-Parganas unit, said on Thursday.

“There have been instances of rallies and meetings being held in the city without police permission. We will hold the meeting in the Esplanade area even if the police do not allow us to.”

Nandi, along with party colleagues Rabin Deb and Tarit Topdar, had called on police commissioner R.K. Pachnanda on Tuesday for permission to hold the rally in front of Victoria House.

Nandi had said after the meeting: “The police commissioner categorically told us that the rally could not be allowed in front of Victoria House as it would disrupt traffic. We were told to look for an alternative venue.”

The police brass suggested Rani Rashmoni Avenue as the venue but the leaders sought Dorina crossing. The police said a decision would be taken after joint commissioner (traffic) Supratim Sarkar and deputy commissioner (south) Vishal Garg inspected the crossing.

Nandi said the police did not inspect the Dorina crossing on Thursday. “They only went to Rani Rashmoni Avenue, a venue we had rejected,” said the former MP, who witnessed the police inspection with Deb and other leaders.

The CPM did not spell out whether they would meet home secretary Basudeb Banerjee on the issue. “We know, all this (denial of permission) is being done from Writers’. But we haven’t yet decided whether to meet the home secretary,’’ said Nandi.

A senior officer at Lalbazar, who didn’t wish to be named, said the CPM would not be allowed to hold the rally anywhere other than Rani Rashmoni Avenue. “If they defy the law, we will act accordingly,” the officer said.

Last month, the Hooghly district administration had initially rejected a CPM proposal to hold a workers’ meeting at Rabindra Bhavan in Arambagh that was to be addressed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The reason cited was “law and order”. The police later relented.