OPPOSITION LEADERS were on Friday stopped by the police from visiting violence-hit Basirhat in North-24 Parganas. Police said while BJP MP Roopa Ganguly and other party leaders were detained, delegations of BJP, Left Front and Congress were not allowed in the area because Section 144 of CrPC (prohibiting an assembly of more than four people) was in place.
The BJP delegation, also including party leader Locket Chatterjee, was detained near Michael Nagar. Claiming they were arrested, Ganguly said: “They do not want us to visit those against whom having atrocities are being committed. One person has died. The government forcibly stopped us and then arrested us.” The leaders were later released. Police said Ganguly and 19 other leaders were detained close to the airport and brought to the airport police station. “We cannot allow anyone to visit the area. This is the decision of the administration. The situation is still tense,” said a senior police officer.
Later, the BJP announced that it will hold a protest rally on Saturday, and also submit a memorandum to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi demanding imposition of President’s Rule in Bengal. “It was a pre-announced programme. Our leaders wanted to go violence-hit areas of Basirhat and talk to the affected people. However, the government stopped us and arrested our leaders. We strongly condemn this. Tomorrow, we will hold a protest rally in Kolkata and meet the Governor to demand the imposition of President’s Rule,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. Slamming the Trinamool Congress for not cooperating with the Opposition, he added: “The state government must take help from the central government to restore law and order in the affected areas. It should also give compensation of Rs 10 lakh and a job to the family of the victim who died on Thursday.”
Earlier, separate delegations of Left Front and Congress were similarly prevented by police from visiting the troubled areas. While the Left Front delegation was stopped twice at Ashok Nagar and Deganga, Congress leaders were stopped at Barasat. “The police are stopping those who are here to talk about peace, and not taking action against those who are creating trouble. This is very unfortunate,” said CPM MP Mohammad Salim, who was part of the delegation.
Sujan Chakraborty, senior CPM leader added: “By stopping our delegation, will peace return in the area? Why is government not calling an all-party meeting?” State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, who was leading the party team, said: “The government does not want us to see condition of affected people. We only wanted to talk to them and stand by them. But government did not want that to happen… We want the chief minister to immediately call an all-party meeting. We were going to the area to take stock of the situation, not to take political mileage.”
Taking a dig at Opposition, Trinamool leader and state Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick said the government was trying to restore peace and communal harmony. “All parties must cooperate with the state government… Why are the Opposition parties in a hurry to go there? Why is such a rush? They can go there later,” he added. Meanwhile, the state government on Friday transferred the local inspector in-charge of Basirhat police station. While Nasim Akhtar has been transferred to Tamluk in East Midnapore, inspector in-charge of Duttapukur, Biswajit Bhattacharya, will take charge of Basirhat.