The state government on Sunday distributed relief material in Makra in Birbhum and gave out compensation cheques to the families of three killed in the political clash on October 27 even as a delegation of state BJP unit, which also wanted to distribute aid among the affected, was denied entry into the village.
Besides packets of rice, pulses and clothes to the villagers, the families of two deceased were given compensation cheque of Rs 2 lakh each in the presence of Birbhum District Magistrate P M K Gandhi and Inspector General (Western Range) Siddhinath Gupta, while the additional district magistrate made arrangements to hand over a similar cheque to the third victim’s family in Dubrajpur.
At the same time, a BJP team, led by senior leader Tathagata Ray and accompanied by party district president Dudhkumar Mondal, was stopped by the police when it tried to enter the Makra village with two vans loaded with relief materials.
They returned following a verbal altercation with the police authorities there.
“The police is working according to the wishes of the ruling party. I told them only three of us would go and won’t carry even a political flag. The police are working as the cadres of the ruling party,” Ray lashed out.
The Trinamool Congress termed it BJP’s “political gimmick”. “Where were they all these years? I have never seen them give out even puffed rice to anybody earlier,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said on the sidelines of a function here.
The police, however, maintained they “have the authority to stop anyone in the apprehension of breach of peace” if prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC are imposed in an area.
Meanwhile, although members of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) managed to enter the village and talk to the family members of the victim, its senior member and social activist, Bolan Ganguly, who met the family of Tausif Ali (one of the three deceased), was arrested for “violating Section 144”. She was, however, later released on PR bond.
“We are social workers who just want to meet people in distress and stand by them. If we are not allowed to meet such people, how will we know about their problems and help them?” she told reporters after her release from the Parui police station.
Shaukat Ali, father of Tausif, who had Saturday reportedly refused to accept the relief amount, on Sunday accepted the cheque, saying it is “out of respect for the Governor (K N Tripathi) who wants peace restored in the area”.
The relief provided by the state government has drawn a lot of criticism from other political parties. “The deceased have been turned into commodities, priced at Rs 2 lakh. The TMC should accept its mistake first,” said Adhir Chowdhury, state Congress president.
Taking a different stance, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said it is not fair on the government’s part to pay the families from the state coffers. “Why should victims of political violence be paid out by the taxpayers’ money?”