Two officials of Election Commission were today assaulted allegedly by the workers of Trinamool Congress when the latter’s bike rally in Malda was being videographed by the poll officials.
Amit Roychowdhury, officer on special duty at the CEO’s office said a preliminary report from the DM has been received, which has been forwarded to the Commission in Delhi, and a detailed report is awaited.
TMC candidate Moazzem Hossain, along with around 200 supporters on bike at Manikchawk area in Malda, was approached by the poll officials – officer-in-charge Ajit Das, Siddhartha Mondal and Dilip Shah – for information on whether they had permission for the rally (banned as per the EC rule) or not. “All of a sudden, they attacked us and damaged our cameras as well,” said one of the officials.
Among the attackers were Somdeep Sarkar, son-in-law of women and social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra, and leaders of Manikchawk Youth TMC, Mukuleshwar Rahman and Nimai Mondal.
Even though Hossain could be seen on camera when the officials are being slapped and pushed, he denied being present at the scene.
“I was not there when the incident happened. I was busy with my campaign. I did hear that our men got into an argument with the EC officials as their car was blocking the way.”
Malda district magistrate S K Trivedi confirmed that the assault did take place, but maintained that he would have further details only after a detailed report from the block development officer has been received.
Besides the two FIRs that have been registered, the police have arrested two persons as accused in the matter, although, interestingly, they are not named in the FIRs, which pertain to the manhandling (under sections 186, 353, 332, 188, 427, 114 and 171 of the IPC) and for organising an unauthorised bike rally.
Malda Superintendent of Police Rupesh Kumar said two persons who have been arrested in connection with the incident are Sheikh Kalu and Bipin Bihari Mondal.
Minister Sabitri Mitra played down the incident, saying “it is only an incident that involves youngsters. Nothing serious has happened.”
The opposition parties have criticised the incident. While former state Congress president Pradeep Bhattacharya said strict action against the offenders is required to avoid such incidents in future, senior CPM leader Rabin Deb, who has also filed a complaint, held “the chief minister’s instigative speeches” responsible. “She (Mamata Banerjee has a history of standing by the miscreants and punishing those who carry out their duties,” Deb said.