A woman member of Naxal organisation CPI(ML) Red Star named in an FIR by West Bengal Police for allegedly inciting violence in Bhangor area over the construction of a Power Grid sub-station, was arrested on Wednesday. Senior South 24 Parganas district police officers said Sharmistha Chowdhury was apprehended when she was pillion riding a motorcycle close to Machibhanga village in Bhangor and was on her way to a gathering of villagers, who were protesting the construction of the sub-station.
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The driver of the motorcycle has also been held. Both were being interrogated. Villagers of Bhangor, located around 35 km from Kolkata, had clashed with police on January 17 during the agitation, leading to the death of two villagers. The villagers were disgruntled for sometime over acquisition of farmland in the area and the CPI(ML) Red Star has been backing the agitation, which is being organised under the banner – Jami, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee (committee to protect land, livelihood, environment and ecosystem).
Earlier in the day, a huge police force led by district Superintendent of Police Sunil Chowdhury, Commandant of the 9th Battalion of the state police Kankar Prasad Barui and other senior officers entered Bhangor after shying away from the troubled areas for the last eight days and took control of the abandoned Power Grid sub-station.
Several roads dug up by agitating villagers were repaired and the police pickets were posted across the entire area of maintain law and order, a senior police officer said. Another senior functionary of the CPI(ML) Red Star Alik Chakraborty, also named in the FIR, was absconding and the police said raids were on to nab him.
Soon after Sharmistha’s arrest, a group of villagers started protesting in the Natunhaat Bazaar and adjoining areas within the jurisdiction of neighbouring Kashipur Police Station. The police were keeping a close watch on the development, the officer said. CPI(ML) Liberation state secretary Partha Ghose has strongly reacted on the arrest of Sharmistha and has demanded her unconditional release. Describing her arrest as unjust, Ghose said the police action would jeopardise the peace process in the troubled areas of Bhangor.