Trinamool MLAs held for sit-in at Buddhadeb’s office


Kolkata: Four Trinamool Congress legislators, including Leader of Opposition in West Bengal assembly Partha Chattopadhyay, were arrested for staging a sit-in in front of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s office here Friday.

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Amidst high drama, the slogan-shouting legislators arrived at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings minutes after Bhattacharjee left for home for lunch, and began the sit-in demanding his arrest for allegedly “masterminding” political violence across the state.

Chattopadhyay protested the “objectionable comment” of former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Anil Basu at a public rally in Hooghly district’s Khanakul area Thursday evening.

“Basu directed the police to arrest Trinamool supporters. If a former CPI-M Lok Sabha member can give such directives to the police, why will the police not arrest the chief minister, who is also the home minister of the state, responding to the demand of public and opposition parties?” Chattopadhyay asked.

“We want immediate action against Anil Basu for his comment as he is not part of the state administration. How come he gives instructions to the police?” Chattopadhyay said.

Startled police officers rushed in reinforcements and a large number of heavily armed personnel of Kolkata Police were deployed before the chief minister’s chamber and the secretariat’s main gate to prevent any ugly turn of events.

Kolkata Police Joint Commissioner (Headquarters) Jawed Shamim and Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department) Damayanti Sen also went to Writers’ Buildings to bring the situation under control.

In a bid to add more punch to the agitation, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee spoke to a section of the electronic media and condemned the violence allegedly triggered by the CPI-M, and supported the demand for Bhattacharjee’s arrest.

She threatened to launch a bigger agitation if her party legislators were arrested.

“The whole of West Bengal will be in flames if any of our leaders is touched by the police. Trinamool Congress activists will hit the streets in thousands if such thing happens,” she said, terming Bhattacharjee as a “leader of state-sponsored violence”.

The tension soared as it got close to 4 p.m., the time when Bhattacharjee daily returns to the secretariat post-lunch. Finally, when the chief minister’s convoy reached Writers’ Buildings, armed policemen and commandos formed a human wall and escorted him to his chamber.

A little later, the police swooped down on the Trinamool legislators – Chattopadhyay, Jyotipriyo Mallick, Ashok Deb and Swarnakamal Saha – and forcibly removed them from the secretariat as the leaders raised slogans against the chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio.

When the four legislators were being bundled into a police vehicle on way to the Presidency Correctional Home, Chattopdhyay expressed surprise over their arrests. “Only four of us were in the secretariat. We have not broken any law. Is the secretariat the sole preserve of the chief minister?” he asked.

As news of the Trinamool leaders’ arrests spread, party workers took to the streets in large number across the state, and demonstrated at key intersections from 5 p.m. as part of a two-hour agitation announced by Banerjee in the event of the four legislators’ arrest.

In Kolkata, top Trinamool leaders and legislators demonstrated at various points in the city and courted arrests.

Traffic was thrown out of gear, inconveniencing commuters.