January 25, 2022 6:27:06 am
Two rival factions of the Alipore Zoo Employees’ Union, backed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), allegedly clashed with each other on the zoo premises over the occupation of the union room in Kolkata on Monday.
Following the clash, BJP supporters reportedly blocked the road outside the zoo in protest which affected vehicular movement and led to a traffic jam.
According to sources, a group of contractual workers who support the TMC reached the union room on Monday morning and pulled down all BJP flags and banners. “The incident triggered a clash between the two sides. The TMC has alleged that BJP’s Rakesh Singh had occupied the room in an unauthorised manner,” a source said.
Rakesh Singh, a leader of the BJP-backed workers union, claimed, “Around 11 am on Monday, TMC supporters broke down the main gate of the Alipore Zoo and beat up women workers. Even all BJP flags were torn down and TMC flags were hoisted instead. Around five to six people were injured in the incident. They have been taken to SSKM Hospital”
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Singh also alleged that zoo workers were beaten up in front of the police as TMC workers hoisted their party’s flags. “Such activities have been going on for about eight months,” he added.
Denying the allegations, TMC leader Kartik Banerjee said, “There has been a long-standing complaint that the workers are not being treated well. Complaints of salaries of contractual workers being cut and workers being exploited have reached us. The BJP is even taking money from those who feed the animals.”
Formerly with the Congress, Singh is a member of the BJP’s state committee in West Bengal. He is also a leader of many workers’ unions in the city’s port area which are located close to Alipore Zoo.
On February 23 last year, he was arrested by the Kolkata Police in connection with his alleged involvement in the Pamela Goswami drug recovery case. A BJP state youth leader, Goswami, who was earlier held following an alleged seizure of contraband from her car, had claimed that it was a conspiracy hatched by Singh.
He was arrested from a vehicle while travelling on the Kolkata-Delhi national highway at Galsi in Purba Bardhaman district of West Bengal.
Singh has more than 27 criminal cases registered against him, with some charges as serious as an attempt to murder. He has also been accused of provoking the crowd in Diamond Harbour while leading BJP president JP Nadda’s convoy last December, the same day it was reportedly attacked by stone pelters.
He was later granted bail by the Calcutta High Court in November last year.
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