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Rebel TMC leader in Siliguri slams ‘police atrocities’

“My posters and festoons were damaged immediately after I filed the nomination. In protest, I staged an agitation in front of the Siliguri police station. But unfortunately, following instructions from ruling party leaders, police dragged me and lodged me in police lock up on 12 January,”

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Senior Trinamool Congress leader Bikash Sarkar, who was ‘expelled’ as the general secretary of the West Bengal Pradesh Trinamool Youth Congress Committee on 10 January, today came down heavily on the police and their alleged atrocities in the state.

Not happy with the way the TMC denied him a ticket to contest the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections, Mr Sarkar has filed his nomination as an independent candidate, even as he ignored the party whip. He is contesting the polls in Ward 24, where the party has nominated Pratul Chakraborty as its official candidate.

The statements Mr Sarkar made at a press conference at the Siliguri Journalists’ Club today were akin to anti-TMC party leaders like the Congress, BJP and even the CPI-M. “Where are we living? Is this the West Bengal of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul and Netaji? We feel shameful and I am sorry to say how ruling party leaders, in association with the police, tried hard to prevent me from contesting the elections in Ward 24,” Mr Sarkar said.

“When chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been trying hard to bring back a proper health management system, a section of ruling party leaders of Darjeeling district, paying no heed to the health department, has managed a false Covid-positive report just to confine me in home isolation so that I cannot campaign for the elections,” Mr Sarkar claimed. “I faced ‘red eyes’ of the police just after I filed my nomination papers as an independent for ward 24. Since a majority of ruling party workers have extended support to me, ruling party leaders, in connivance with the state machineries, had identified Debashis Colony in ward 24 as a containment zone and branded residents as having Covid-19 without testing them.

The objective was to confine them so that they cannot work for me,” Mr Sarkar said, adding, “My posters and festoons were damaged immediately after I filed the nomination. In protest, I staged an agitation in front of the Siliguri police station. But unfortunately, following instructions from ruling party leaders, police dragged me and lodged me in police lock up on 12 January,” Mr Sarkar said.

According to him, police took initiatives to collect his swab for Covid test. “That time, I and my friends suspected that the collection of swab may be another game plan of the police. Interestingly, the police informed me on 15 January evening that my test was positive. Police asked me to stay home. Following police instructions, I was in home isolation. But later I decided to go for an RT-PCR test from the state’s approved laboratory in Siliguri. The second test report was negative,” the rebel TMC leader, Mr Sarkar claimed.

Responding to reporters’ questions, he said he did not have any health problems or symptoms. “I didn’t receive any official message and alerts after police conducted the Covid test, and got a positive test report, but during the second time I received a message related to the second test report from authorities concerned,” he said.

“In fact the police wanted to confine me for seven days more from 15 January so that I cannot move even on the date of elections, which was scheduled to be held on 22 January,” Mr Sarkar said, adding, “But thank God, the polls have been deferred by the State Election Commission.” Mr Sarkar, who was close to former minister and the TMC mayoral candidate Gautam Deb, said he was in no position to say whether Mr Deb managed a Covid-positive test report to earn sympathy from the Siliguri people.

Notably, Mr Deb was admitted to a private hospital here yesterday evening after he complained of uneasiness, and his Covid test report was positive. People came to know of Mr Deb’s health problems from his Facebook post, where he informed his followers about the development and alerted all who came in close contact with him during election campaigning and during other occasions.

As controversy always runs after Mr Deb, a section of his Facebook followers criticized him as he had just taken the ‘booster’ vaccine dose on 10 January. Another section criticized him for being admitted in a top private nursing home, while some also wrote some indecorous words in the comments section.

After deferment of the SMC polls, like the BJP, some hardcore CPIM workers here have been campaigning and telling people that the TMC has finally deferred the elections “after it realized that people are against the ruling party in the four corporation areas.” Notably, Siliguri’s BJP district president and MLA from Matigara-Naxalbari, Anandamoy Barman, yesterday claimed that the TMC postponed the elections after having failed to take on other political parties.