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Mamata sees red as Surjeet draws ’84 link

CPI(M) veteran and former party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet whose article in the party organ People’s Democracy, accusing...

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 20, 2005

CPI(M) veteran and former party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet whose article in the party organ People’s Democracy, accusing Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee of instigating mobs against Sikhs in 1984, has had her sending him a legal notice for defamation.

‘‘Some political bigwigs, including the so-called firebrand lady of Bengal, were trying to organise mayhem in the state,’’ Surjeet wrote in the latest issue of People’s Democracy.

Mamata was a student leader supporting the Congress at that time. And though she is not mentioned by name, the article leaves little doubt about her identity.

However, Surjeet’s own comrades in West Bengal have dissociated themselves from his charge.

Anil Biswas, West Bengal secretary of the CPI(M), gave a clean chit to Mamata Banerjee, saying: ‘‘I have no knowledge about Mamata Banerjee having played any role in anti-Sikh riots in Kolkata. But we can say Congress as a party did not play any positive role in containing anti-Sikh violence at that time.’’

And Defence Minister and Bengal PCC chief Pranab Mukherjee had a different take: ‘‘Where was Mamata Banerjee in the political scenario then?’’

Mamata, meanwhile, has sent legal notices to Surjeet, and the editor and publisher of the weekly. Ajit Panja, former union minister and TMC leader who also happens to be a prominent lawyer of the High Court, leads the battery of lawyers engaged by Mamata to fight the legal battle.

According to Mamata, Surjeet’s article is linked to the Assembly elections in West Bengal next year. ‘‘The Left’s history has been of character assassination of people they cannot defeat politically. I have always stood up to them and this is how they are trying to finish me,’’ she said.

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