Kolkata Mayor and West Bengal Cabinet Minister Sovan Chatterjee said in Bhangar on Thursday that the state government will protect innocent villagers on whom “Naxalite politics has been forced upon”, but will “not take any responsibility” of those who help the rebels.
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Bhangar has remained tense since January 17 when protests against land acquisition for a power sub-station turned violent. Two people were killed in clashes between the villagers and police. Police have, however, denied firing and claimed that “outsiders” shot at the villagers. The CID probe into the incident has made little progress so far. Following the incident, villagers set up a blockade and did not allow government officials to enter Bhangar. Although the blockade was lifted after 10 days, the villagers are yet to allow police to enter.
Chatterjee, who visited Bhangar with minister Firhad Hakim and TMC leader Subrata Bakshi, told villagers, “The state government will protect the innocent, but those who are helping any Naxalite force that is trying to find refuge here and it is proved later through investigation, we will not take any responsibility for them.”
TMC leaders said that the state government was worried by the sudden appearance in Bhangar of the CPI(ML) Red Star, which has its roots in Kerala. The CID has arrested Red Star leader Sharmistha Choudhury in connection with the violence, but another leader Alik Chakraborty has evaded arrest. A senior CID officer said, “The problem is that we can’t enter the villagers. Villages Khamarait, Machhi Bhanga, Tona and Ghazipur were the most affected and we think Alik is hiding there. But, we can’t enter these areas.”