Hours after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was gheraoed and her Finance Minister,Amit Mitra,heckled by Left activists outside the Planning Commissions office in New Delhi Tuesday,Trinamool Congress workers retaliated by unleashing violence in West Bengal. At least two former CPM ministers were attacked and over a hundred CPM district and zonal party offices were torched,according to reports.
Banerjee and her ministers were on their way to a meeting with the Planning Commission on the states annual plan size,when they were gheraoed at about 3.45 pm by a group of about 125 Left activists who were protesting against the death of SFI activist Sudipto Gupta in Kolkata.
The police had reportedly advised Banerjee to drive inside the Yojana Bhawan compound,but she chose to walk through the protesters,and even refused to take the gate meant for VIPs.
While Banerjee was shielded by the policemen,Mitra was pushed and jostled by a group of around 20 people,including some women. His kurta was torn in the melee. I was attacked from all sides. Somebody even tried to take my wallet, Mitra said later.
You have created a new precedent here. My minister was assaulted. This is scandalous. There were 20 hooligans… Delhi is not safe, an angry Banerjee told Minister of State for Planning Rajiv Shukla and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. West Bengal secured a 17 per cent hike in its plan allocation.
Speaking to mediapersons after the meeting,Banerjee said: They tried to hit my head with an iron rod. Luckily,Firhad Hakim (state minister) shielded me and snatched the rod. Two-three people came from Kolkata and instigated the whole thing… They can kill me but they cant stop me. I am a product of the student movement. They have tried to kill me several times in the past also.
In the evening,she cancelled her scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh citing health reasons.
Mitra was admitted to AIIMS after the meeting following complaints of chest pain and high blood pressure. West Bengals Rural Affairs Minister Subrata Mukherjee also suffered minor bruises on his hand.
Within an hour of the incident,the TMC organised protests in Kolkata. According to reports,at least 35 CPM offices were looted and ransacked in North 24 Parganas,from where Mitra won the assembly election. About 10 party offices were torched in Coochbehar district.
Former CPI(M) minister Sudarshan Roychoudhury was attacked and his vehicle torched in Hooghly district. Former land reform minister Abdul Rezzak Mollahs vehicle was also ransacked. Five party offices in Hooghly district were ransacked. We condemned the incident in Delhi,but this type of backlash cannot be accepted, said Roychoudhury. In several districts,TMC workers armed with lathis took out rallies and blocked roads.
State Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee said the party would organise protest rallies in all districts of the state. We will show the CPM how a spontaneous movement can be held, he said.
TMC general secretary Mukul Roy said the party would organise a demonstration in Delhi on Wednesday to kick-off a nationwide stir. However,he appealed for peaceful protests.
Meanwhile,top CPM leaders including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,Left Front chairman Biman Bose and opposition leader Suryakanta Mishra have condemned the attack on Banerjee.
SFI general secretary Ritabrata Banerjee denied that the protesters had manhandled Mitra. We did not manhandle anyone. We were holding a completely peaceful and democratic protest, he said.
Delhi Police officers said a case has been registered at the Parliament Street police station under sections of rioting,obstructing a public servant on duty and wrongful restraint.