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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Mamata Banerjee’s glare on cops over Kaliaganj violence

CM expresses displeasure over intelligence’s alleged inability to foresee riot

Pranesh Sarkar, Kousik Sen Calcutta/Raiganj Published 27.04.23, 05:37 AM
Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna on Wednesday 

Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna on Wednesday 

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday apparently expressed displeasure over the way police had handled the violence at Kaliaganj in North Dinajpur district on Tuesday and questioned the intelligence’s alleged inability to foresee the riot in which law enforcers had been chased away and the local police station torched.

Workers clean up the premises of Kaliaganj police station on Wednesday

Workers clean up the premises of Kaliaganj police station on Wednesday Picture by Kousik Sen

The chief minister also instructed Bengal police chief Manoj Malaviya to take stern action against the perpetrators of the violence. A mob of around 2,000 people who brought out a march over the death of a 17-year-old girl last week rampaged through Kaliaganj on Tuesday.

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At an administrative review meeting in Nabanna, the Bengal secretariat, on Wednesday, Mamata said the police should have handled the situation more efficiently.

“What were they (police) doing? Why didn’t they use batons to disperse the mob? Police have to be more proactive to deal with such situations,” the chief minister was quoted to have said at the meeting by an official.

She wondered what the intelligence wing had been doing prior to the violence. “It was an announced event (march). Why did the intelligence wing not get the information that the gathering could turn so violent,” Mamata said apparently.

Talking to journalists later, Mamata asserted that the police would take stringent steps against the perpetrators of the violence.

“Government property was vandalised and burnt down yesterday. We will attach the properties of all those who were involved in the attack. This step is necessary to prevent such hooliganism (in future). The BJP is behind the violence and brought in goons from Bihar,” she said.

The mob that mostly comprised Rajbanshis and Adivasis had organised the march, alleging that the minor girl had been raped and murdered. But the autopsy pointed out poisoning as the possible cause of the death. The agitators want the CBI to probe the death.

“The police are investigating the death of the girl. The autopsy was videographed and the doctor concerned said it was a case of suicide. The investigation is on and I must not say anything in advance,” said Mamata.

The police patrolled Kaliaganj on Wednesday as the town started limping back to normality.

Workers were engaged to clean up the police station and the premises. The police and civic volunteers removed the charred motorcycles and other debris. Pieces of bricks and stones, which had landed at the police station on Tuesday, were also removed.

The North Dinajpur district administration clamped prohibitory orders in five municipal wards surrounding the police station to prevent any gathering in the area.

“All parties in the district have been asked to refrain from organising political activities to keep the situation under control,” said a police officer.

The police’s preliminary investigation showed that youths from neighbouring blocks like Itahar and Karandighi had joined the march with a plan to attack the law enforcers.

“They were carrying kerosene and could easily set fire to the police station,” said a source.

The special operation group of the district police has been engaged to identify the attackers.

Sana Akhtar, the superintendent of police of North Dinajpur, said 32 persons had been arrested so far in connection with the violence. “We are in search of some others,” he said.

A court in Raiganj on Wednesday remanded nine of the 32 in police custody for eight days.

“The remaining have been sent to judicial custody for 14 days,” said a source.

The joint forum ofRajbanshis and Adivasis which had organised the march termed the violence as the spontaneous outburst of common people.

“We were taking out the march peacefully but police attacked us with batons, teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon. This agitated a section of the marchers who retaliated. After the incident, the police are making indiscriminate arrests. Rabindranath Ghosh, the president of the forum, has been arrested. If such highhandedness doesn’t stop, we will launch a movement,” said Kalipada Barman, secretary of the forum.

Bullet hits driver

Manoj Kumar Barman, an e-rickshaw driver, suffered a bullet injury during the violence at Kaliaganj on Tuesday.

Barman, who is under treatment at Raiganj Government Medical College and Hospital, said he was crossing the area with his family when a bullet had hit his left hand.

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