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Minister aide blames hotel

Calcutta/Patna: The private secretary of Bihar minister Suresh Sharma has accused the Tarapith hotel staff of attacking him and trying to snatch the weapons of his bodyguard.

"The hotel staff... attacked the minister staff members when they insisted on rooms. The hotel personnel even tried to snatch the arms of the minister's bodyguard. They also assaulted the people in minister's entourage during which one of the persons injuries on his head another sustained injuries on his fingers (sic)," Sharma's private secretary Sanjeev Kumar said in a complaint lodged at the Rampurhat police station on Tuesday.

The complaint, seeking action against the accused, has not mentioned any name.

The Rampurhat police have initiated cases, including against the minister, on the basis of the complaints filed by the hotel staff as well as the private secretary.

Identical bailable charges - voluntarily causing hurt, voluntarily causing grievous hurt and unlawful assembly - have been invoked in both the cases.

After the brawl on Monday, the local police had helped Sharma witness a puja at the Tarapith temple and arranged a hotel. On Tuesday morning, local BJP leaders met the minister at the hotel.

BJP district president Ramkrishna Roy dismissed the allegations against Sharma and said it was an attempt to cover up the "fact" that Sharma wasn't provided with security.

Asish Banerjee, Trinamul's Rampurhat MLA and agriculture minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, said it "is very surprising to note that the BJP minister and his associates are from a dry state".

Before leaving the hotel around 11am, minister Sharma, who represents Muzaffarpur in the Bihar Assembly, said: "My people requested several times for security and escort. Even the Bihar government contacted the Bengal government, but after Jharkhand police left me at border, there was no police escort from Bengal."

"It was nothing but a conspiracy to harass a minister from Bihar.... I would tell the chief minister of Bengal that the name of state is getting maligned because of law and order problems. I will not visit again until the law and order is under control here," he added.

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