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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Nadda convoy attack: Bengal says no to Centre summons; addressing issue, chief secy tells MHA

The Centre issued the summons on the basis of a report sent by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday morning about law and order in the state.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata, New Delhi | Updated: December 12, 2020 7:57:53 am
Nadda convoy attack: Bengal says no to Centre summons; addressing issue, chief secy tells MHAThe flare-up comes at a time when the BJP-led Centre and the TMC government are locked in a new tussle after stones were pelted by alleged Trinamool men at Nadda’s motorcade.

The chief secretary of West Bengal has written to the union home secretary providing details of the security arrangements made for BJP president J P Nadda, and asked the central official to “kindly dispense” with state officials at a meeting he has called to discuss law and order in the state.

Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay wrote to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla after the Home Ministry summoned him and Director-General of Police Virendra to be present in North Block for a meeting on Monday.

The Centre issued the summons on the basis of a report sent by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday morning about law and order in the state, where Nadda’s convoy was attacked with stones and sticks, allegedly by supporters of the Trinamool Congress, on Thursday. Ten BJP workers and leaders, including national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and national vice president Mukul Roy, suffered minor injuries.

“I am to inform you that as requested… the incidents regarding certain Z category protectees are already being examined at our end,” the chief secretary wrote to the union home secretary.

“We have indeed made elaborate arrangements for security cover for the protectees yesterday. The West Bengal Police has provided a bulletproof car and pilot to Sri J P Nadda, which was in addition to the escort (vehicle by State, personnel by CRPF) and PSOs (CRPF) he is entitled as Z category protectee.

“The DIG (Police) of the range was stationed in the area to personally supervise the police arrangements, while four Additional SPs, 8 DySPs , 14 Inspectors, 70 SIs/ASIs, 40 RAF personnel, 259 constables and 350 members of auxiliary forces were deployed on the route and at the venue at Diamond Harbour…”

Bandopadhyay made the point that the “tagging of many vehicles to the protectee convoy made the situation unwieldy, because typically security authorities are to handle a protectee convoy of a few vehicles only”. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked on Thursday why the BJP president needed a “50-car convoy, apart from 30 press vehicles and 40 motorbikes”.

The police have registered three cases relating to the incident, including two on the vandalism that left several vehicles in Nadda’s convoy damaged, and arrested seven people, Bandopadhyay wrote to Bhalla.

“While further reports are being obtained and compiled, in the circumstances, I am directed to request you to kindly dispense with the presence of the state officials in the meeting, considering that the state government is already addressing the issue with utmost seriousness,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a senior Home Ministry official had told The Indian Express that Governor Dhankhar had sent a report on the attack, “and how it transpired despite the chief secretary and DGP being alerted about security needs of the visit”.

The Governor’s report had “painted a grim picture of the law and order situation in the state,” the official said. “To discuss these issues, the chief secretary and the DGP have been summoned.”

The official said that the state government officers had been summoned because they did not respond to the home secretary’s letter of Thursday, seeking a report on the attack on Nadda’s convoy.

In Kolkata, the West Bengal Police said in a report to the chief minister that the attack on Nadda’s convoy was the result of “provocation”, and that barring the “10-15 minutes” of trouble at Sirakol in South 24-Parganas district, the rest of the journey to Diamond Harbour from Kolkata was peaceful.

“Adequate security cover was provided and the untoward incident which was based on provocation lasted for 10 to 15 minutes. There were a large number of vehicles and motorbikes in front and back of the convoy, which was against the norms. A detailed report has been submitted to the CM,” a senior police officer said.

The report identified a BJP leader named Rakesh Singh, who along with others, provoked the attackers in Sirakol, it said. One of the three cases registered by police is against Singh; the other two are for the vandalism.

Responding to the police report, Mukul Roy told a press conference in Kolkata: “It is true that a bulletproof car was provided (to Nadda) by the state police. But we did not see policemen along the route. The handful of policemen we saw, stood as mute spectators as we were attacked. Had Naddaji not been inside a bulletproof car, anything could have happened to him. This is a lawless state. I think President’s Rule should be imposed immediately in Bengal.” Roy insisted that Rakesh Singh “did not do anything provocative”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Bengal on December 19. He will meet with members of the Matua community in Bongaon, and speak on the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Most Matuas are Hindu refugees from Bangladesh who have long demanded citizenship in India.

Shah is scheduled to visit Shantiniketan in Birbhum district for an official engagement.

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