Trinamul national general-secretary Abhishek Banerjee was stopped on Tuesday at three places by Kurmi protesters, who sought his intervention in getting the Scheduled Tribe status for the community, a longstanding demand of theirs.
The Diamond Harbour MP was on his way to attend a political event in Bankura's Khatra as part of his outreach, Trinamuley Nabo Jowar (New High Tide in Trinamul) when he was stopped on the way.
A source said Abhishek talked to Kurmi protesters for around five minutes at Bankanta village in Bankura's Simlapal, where his convoy was first stopped.
He was again stopped within 5km by another group at Pakhuria village. Police, however, let Abhishek's car pass and it prompted the protesters to gherao other cars of his convoy for some 30 minutes.
He came out of his car and listened to some 200 protesters for around 30 minutes at Khatra's Jamda village, where he was stopped for the third time.
"People were angry as the police primarily did not allow us to meet him (Abhishek). Finally, he listened to our demand (ST tag) and assured us of raising this issue," said Krishnapada Mahato, the Khatra block secretary of Adivasi Kurmi Samaj.
Members of the Kurmi community claimed they were registered as a Scheduled Tribe till 1931 but were out of the list for “unknown reasons” after Independence. Currently, they are included in the OBC list.
Kurmi leaders told him they would not vote for Trinamul if he did not raise the matter in the right quarters. A Kurmi representative claimed the state government did not send a proper justification report from its Cultural Research Institute (CRI) to Delhi, essential to get the ST tag.
"We are happy for now as he (Abhishek) at least listened to us and promised to help us," said a Kurmi leader.