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Molestation case against Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya

Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya
Police have registered a case of molestation against Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya and CPM leader Jibesh Sarkar a day after the Left party accused Trinamul activists of attacking a march the mayor was leading.

A police officer said a lady had brought the allegation of molestation against the mayor and several of yesterday's processionists. "She has filed a complaint and accordingly, a case has been registered against the accused," a senior police officer said.

The officer said the lady had alleged that the CPM mob ransacked her house and some of the activists molested her. She named Bhattacharya and Sarkar among the leaders she could identify.

Bhattacharya today said that he had been falsely implicated in police cases as he had raised his voice against north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb and other Trinamul supporters who had attacked a rally organised by the CPM at Balason Bazaar area in Matigara, on the outskirts of Siliguri, yesterday.

Bhattacharya and other leaders of the CPM alleged that Trinamul supporters attacked them yesterday according to instructions of Deb.

The reason for the CPM march yesterday was to protest the ransacking of a local party office in the area by alleged Trinamul activists on Friday.

Deb, on the other hand, has accused the mayor for resorting to drama to conceal the alleged attack that CPM supporters, led by him, had made on some Trinamul workers in the area yesterday.

Both sides have filed complaints at Matigara police station. Three CPM supporters have been arrested so far.

Bhattacharya said a branch office of the party was ransacked by Trinamul supporters and when they organised a rally at the spot, Trinamul workers attacked them by throwing stones. He blamed Deb of instigating Trinamul workers to attack the CPM cadres.

In Calcutta, leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said: "The police in Bengal have been hyperactive in some cases while being completely inert in others. In case of the ruthless attack on our workers and leaders, which could have claimed lives in Siliguri, the police have remained silent and inactive."

He said: "The police did nothing to protect us in Siliguri. It was the local people whose intervention prevented things from going out of hand. After that, the police have been entertaining false cases against our leaders in the matter, which shows what their intentions are."

On the other hand, Trinamul leaders said the CPM supporters had ransacked four houses and two shops of their supporters.

Among the two cases other than the molestation charge, one has been registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the CPM, alleging that Trinamul had ransacked their meeting. No injury report, however, has been appended with the complaint, sources said.

The third case has been registered suo motu by the police, alleging destruction of public property, illegal assembly and rioting.

Jibesh Sarkar, the convener of the Darjeeling district Left Front, said the party was considering legal steps against the inaction and biased attitude of the police.

Tension brewed in Matigara on Friday late evening when a group of suspected Trinamul supporters ransacked a CPM office at the locality.

A meeting of the local branch committee was in progress at the party office when the incident happened.

As district leaders like Bhattacharya and Jibesh Sarkar, the Darjeeling district CPM secretary, learnt about the incident, they went there yesterday afternoon to express solidarity with the local supporters.

"As we organised a rally in protest of the incident and demanded immediate steps by the police, a group of Trinamul supporters attacked us with sticks and iron rods and pelted stones at us. We called the police to help us but they arrived late," Bhattacharya said here today.

"The police officers, after arriving at the spot, acted biased. Instead of taking steps against the attackers who have done this at the instruction of the local minister, they tried to implicate our leaders and workers by concocting baseless allegations. Such deliberate attitude of the police officers to frame us in false cases was also done at the insistence of the minister," the mayor added.

According to Bhattacharya, who is also a state secretariat member of the CPM, Trinamul has resorted to such tactics as it has started losing its support base in rural areas of Siliguri subdivision, including Matigara.

"The three-tier elections of Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad are round the corner and Trinamul leaders here have become desperate to resist the growing support of their political contenders. This is why they are resorting to attacks and using government machineries, including the police, to deter us from carrying out protests and other political activities," he said.

Today, Trinamul held a sit-in demonstration at Hashmi Chowk in town, accusing the Left for attacking its supporters.(TT)

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