Trinamool, administration on collision course in Khejuri


Kolkata : The Trinamool Congress and the West Bengal administration were Friday seemingly headed for a standoff, with the state home secretary threatening to use force to lift the opposition party’s siege of a police station and a road in East Midnapore’s troublespot Khejuri and Trinamool MP Subhendu Adhikari daring him to do so.

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The Trinamool, which blockaded the police station protesting against the arrest of 14 of its members onthe charge of rioting, announced it would organise a public boycott of policemen if their members were not given bail.

Fresh violence erupted recently in Khejuri, a neighbouring block of the erstwhile violent zone of Nandigram, as several offices of the ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and homes of several of its leaders there were ransacked allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters.

Khejuri, about 160 km from here, was traditionally known as a CPI-M stronghold.

Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said: “I think they will remove the blockade. If they don’t, police will use force.”

Terming the comments as “politically motivated” and “irresponsible”, Adhikari – who won from Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency which also includes Nandigram – said: “We are taking it as a challenge. If he has the power, then let him use force. We will fight it out alongside people. The administration will be responsible for the consequences.”

Adhikari said: “We are giving one more chance to police to charge these 14 people under non-bailable sections. Otherwise, from Saturday we can’t do anything if people boycott the policemen.

“They won’t get a school building to set up camps. They won’t get food or water. Shopkeepers won’t sell any items to them.”

Trinamool Congress chief and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, speaking to a television chancel over phone from New Delhi, said the state government had amassed a large contingent of police and was planning to do a repeat of the Nandigram firing incident.

Fourteeen people had died, mostly in police firing, in Nandigram March 14, 2007, after people there dug up roads and created a virtual ‘free zone’ protesting against the state government’s move to acquire land for a chemical hub. The government was later forced to abort its plans.

“This government does not have the moral right to continue in office. The administration is acting in a very partisan way. Things will automatically turn normal if cases are withdrawn against our supporters,” Banerjee said.

In recent days, Khejuri has been on the boil. The Trinamool Congress had called for a 12-hour shutdown Tuesday after the arrest of some CPI-M activists for allegedly storing weapons. Many houses and CPI-M offices were ransacked and set ablaze by irate villagers that day.

Five state ministers, on their way to Khejuri, were also stopped by Trinamool supporters and not allowed to set foot in the area.

Meanwhile, the CPI-M urged its cadres to take to the streets and stage demonstration against the “opposition-sponsored lawlessness”.