West Bengal minister Birbaha Hansda's vehicle was attacked in Paschim Medinipur district on Friday as members of the Kurmi community allegedly hurled stones at senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee's convoy, in which she was travelling, officials said.
The incident happened in Salboni where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to attend a party programme on Saturday.
Abhishek, a Z-plus protectee, led a roadshow in Jhargram's Binpur and Gopiballavpur as part of his Trinamooley Nabojowar (new wave in Trinamool) campaign. Following the rally, he was travelling through Salboni when members of the Kurmi community, who are protesting demanding ST status, gathered on both sides of the road, a party leader said.
As his car moved ahead, they allegedly started throwing stones at the roadshow. "The vehicle of Hansda, which was in the convoy, was damaged in the attack," the leader said.
A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation, officials said.
It could not be immediately known if anyone was arrested.
Condemning the incident, Hansda said violence can never be the form of a democratic protest.
"This can never be a fight for the rights of a community. All those who have thrown stones are outsiders, and are using the garb of being members of a specific community to justify the violence," she added.
Members of the Kurmi community had met Banerjee in Bankura on Tuesday, and urged him to look into their demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The TMC MP from Diamond Harbour gave them a patient hearing and said it was justified to conduct democratic protests to press for their demands.
Last week, BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh's house in Paschim Medinipur's Kharagpur was vandalised allegedly by members of a Kurmi outfit over his comments against the community.
"The TMC has been fanning this movement. When my house was attacked they had cherished it, now they are at the receiving end," Ghosh said.
The Kurmi community, which is classified as OBC at present, protested for days in April in different districts of the state, including Dakshin Dinajpur, Purulia, Jhargram and Paschim Medinipur, demanding ST status.
CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said the TMC leadership should do some soul-searching as to why such protests are taking place in the state.
He alleged that people are angry over several issues.
"It is unfortunate that such protests are happening despite huge security arrangements," he said.
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