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21 held, ‘illegal arms’ seized as Bengal police probe ‘attack’ on Union minister Pramanik’s convoy

The governor of West Bengal has immediately sought an action-taken report from state government over alleged ‘TMC attack’ on Nisith Pramanik’s convoy in his constituency.

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Kolkata: Police in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar have filed 3 FIRs and arrested 21 people in connection with an alleged attack on Union minister Nisith Pramanik’s convoy in the district Saturday. 

The alleged attack — which Pramanik has blamed on Trinamool Congress members — led to a clash between members of the state’s ruling party and the BJP. 

The incident took place at Burirhat in Dinhata, where Pramanik — the Cooch Behar MP — was said to be visiting a BJP worker. The site is close to a Trinamool office, and the clash was preceded by members of the party gathering to show black flags to Pramanik.  

Investigating the clash, police say they have seized two vehicles that they claim belong to local BJP leaders with six rounds of bullets and three “illegal firearms”. 

“We have collected video evidence of the clashes and retained the CCTV footage of the entire episode that unfolded at Burirhat during the central minister’s visit,” said a senior police officer to ThePrint. 

The officer said 2 of the FIRs pertain to alleged attacks on BJP workers’ homes by TMC members, adding that the Trinamool party office was also ransacked. 

Police said Pramanik’s visit wasn’t a political gathering since such events are suspended in Bengal until the completion of the ongoing state board examinations. 

Pramanik is covered by a central security detail that includes CRPF and CISF personnel. Even so, the police officer quoted above said protocol dictated that local police should have been informed of Pramanik’s movements during his visit but this wasn’t done. 

“Since Pramanik is an MP and central minister, he is covered under VIP security. His movement details are supposed to be shared with the local police station and district police headquarters for immediate action and route identification,” the 0fficer added. 

“On 25 February, he did not inform the police about his movement, and it was through intel that we found out he was to visit Burirhat.” 

Pramanik, the officer said, only visited the BJP worker’s house in Burirhat for 5 minutes. 

“The SDPO (subdivisional police officer) and OC (officer in charge of local station) were personally present at the spot. Three-four teams of police were deployed at various spots,” the officer said. “There is a TMC party office 150 metres away from the spot. Trinamool workers were pushed behind barricades.”

Explaining how the clash erupted, the officer said that, after Pramanik left, he drove to the Sahibganj-Dinhata border, in another direction, and took a U-turn. 

“Forty 4-wheelers and 20 bikes then joined his cavalcade and returned to Burirhat. The clashes broke out shortly afterwards as Pramanik confronted the Trinamool workers who were showing black flags and asked why they were protesting.”

The clashes were marked by stone-pelting and vandalism but the police officer refuted Pramanik’s claims of bullets being fired and bombs being hurled at the spot. However, the officer said stun shells were fired to disperse the crowd. 

Further investigation is being carried out to identify the miscreants, he added. 

While the governor has launched a “confidential inquiry” into the episode, a war of words has begun between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.

Speaking to ThePrint, Pramanik said the state had no democracy, and the Trinamool in turn accused the BJP of “bringing in goons to create tensions”.

Also Read: WB governor’s praise for Mamata irks BJP again. TMC calls his appointment ‘miscalculation’ by BJP

Raj Bhavan launches ‘inquiry’

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose issued a stern press statement Sunday regarding the reported attack. 

The governor has launched a confidential inquiry and sought an action-taken report from the West Bengal government. “As governor, it is my duty to ensure that West Bengal does not slip into a ‘soft state’. Rule of law will be established with an iron fist in a velvet glove… Government will take immediate and perceptible action while dealing with the criminals and upholding the rule of law,” the press statement said. 

Sources in Raj Bhavan said such confidential reports are directly sent to the governor but could not confirm if the governor had received the report by Monday. 

Hours after the clash Saturday, the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari called on the governor at Raj Bhavan, where the incident was discussed at length. 

Speaking to the media, Adhikari said he had emailed Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the “attack”, and urged the Centre to impose President’s Rule in the state.

Reached for comment, Pramanik said “there is no democracy in West Bengal”. 

“I have informed the Union home minister about the details of the incident and I have full faith in the highest authority of the state (governor) who has initiated action already.”

Meanwhile, Trinamool minister Udayan Guha told ThePrint that the “BJP had brought in goons to create tension in Dinhata”. 

“Until the time such people are in power, the democracy in Bengal will be under threat,” he added.

The BJP has approached the Calcutta High Court’s Chief Justice bench seeking the deployment of central forces in Dinhata for “law and order to prevail”, as well as a CBI probe in the matter. 

While mentioning the case, the BJP counsel said that if a central minister who is covered under central security is not safe, “then how can a common man feel safe?” 

The matter is likely to be heard later this week.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan) 

Also Read: 25 years of TMC — what makes party & its chief Mamata Banerjee click in Bengal


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