The arrest of two leaders of Kurmi community in Bankura on Tuesday on charges of attack on the convoy of Trinamul national general secretary and MP Abhishek Banerjee during his mass outreach programme in the district in May has triggered anger among the community.
The community has decided to launch a big movement across Jungle Mahal demanding the release of its leaders Krishnapada Mahato and Tapas Mahato.
Police on Tuesday arrested Krishnapada, the Khatra block president of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj Central Committee, and Tapas, the organisation's youth leader in Shimlapal, for obstructing Abhishek's convoy of the Diamond Harbour MP and preventing policemen from discharging their duty and blocking the road.
On May 23, a group of Kurmi activists stopped Abhishek's convoy in Shimlapal when he was on his way to Khatra from Bishnupur as part of his Nabo Jowar programme before the July 8 panchayat polls. The Kurmis demanded their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category. Abhishek later held a meeting on the spot to tell them that their demand would be looked into.
Since then, Krishnapada and Tapas were absconding. Their arrest on Tuesday angered a section of the Kurmi community which has a sizeable presence in Jungle Mahal districts.
"Police have arrested our two leaders to suppress our movement for the ST tag. They were falsely implicated in a suo motu case lodged by the police four months ago. We strongly condemn the arrest and will launch a movement to demand their release," said Sanjoy Mahato, joint secretary of Adivasi Kurmi Samaj Central Committee.
This incident comes on the backdrop of Mamata Banerjee government's initiative to pacify both the Kurmi and tribal communities, which are at loggerheads over the ST tag.
Police said the duo were wanted in the case but had been absconding for the past four months.
"They were seen on Tuesday creating trouble in their localities and were arrested," said Vaibhav Tiwari, superintendent of Bankura police.
Krishnapada and Tapas were produced in Khatra court on Wednesday that sent them in judicial custody for 14 days.
In the Jungle Mahal districts of Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts, Kurmis seek the ST tag for the benefits under the category, but tribals do not want to share them.
The threat of a fresh Kurmi agitation against the arrests has come as a major headache for the administration.
Recently, the Mamata Banerjee government has begun an exercise to pacify both communities to evade the flare-up of any major violence between them like in Manipur. Mamata, during her Jhargram visit in August, held two separate meetings with tribal and Kurmi leaders and promised them both her support, before urging them to steer clear of violence.