Tamluk (WB): High drama was witnessed at Tamluk in Purba Medinipur district on Sunday afternoon as West Bengal Leader of Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari was prevented by police from visiting violence-hit areas in Howrah.
He was later allowed to proceed after a two-hour-long stand-off on the condition that he would go straight to Kolkata, without making any pit stop in violence-hit areas in adjoining Howrah district.
Adhikari said he would move the court on Monday over being prevented from visiting the areas affected by violent protests over controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad by now suspended BJP spokespersons.
Police claimed preventing him from travelling to Howrah was a “precautionary measure” as prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been clamped in many areas in the district and his visit may have caused law and order problems.
Adhikari was moving with his security entourage when he was stopped by a huge police team at Radharani More in Tamluk. He was not accompanied by any other BJP leader.
“We have received information that Adhikari was planning to visit Howrah district, in parts of which Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed. So, as a precautionary measure, we had to prevent him from going there as his visit may have caused a law and order problem,” a senior police officer told PTI.
Adhikari remained seated inside the vehicle, claiming he had no intention of visiting Howrah. He was also reluctant to return to his hometown Kanthi in Purba Medinipur district from where he had started.
He engaged in heated arguments with police officers present at the spot, stating that he wanted to have lunch and take rest at a guest house in Kolaghat in Purba Medinipur district, before proceeding to Kolkata.
“I have been unlawfully obstructed by @WBPolice on NH 116 at Radhamoni under Tamluk PS. @MedinipurSp is there a Curfew in place in Purba Medinipur District or Section 144 has been imposed? I am moving towards Kolaghat for having lunch. How is it prohibited?” Adhikari said in a series of tweets from the spot.
“I wonder why @WBPolice DGP @mmalaviya1 is using the Police personnel to obstruct @BJP4Bengal leadership when the need of the hour is to deploy them across WB where rioters are having a free run destroying & looting public & private properties,” he added.
Adhikari said he has a programme to attend at Indian Museum in Kolkata in the afternoon and assembly session will take place on Monday.
After this, police allowed him to proceed but on the condition that he won’t make any pit stop in troubled areas in Howrah district and go straight to Kolkata, ending the two-hour-long stand-off.
Upon reaching Kolkata, Adhikari straightaway went to the site of party colleague and state BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar’s sit-in demonstration against alleged failure of the Mamata Banerjee government in containing violent incidents in Howrah.
“I did not get down from my vehicle, even while passing by our gutted party office in Uluberia. I offered by tributes with folded hands as the car slowed down. We will later purify it with Ganga water,” he said.
Adhikari alleged that he was not treated in a proper manner and such treatment was never meted out to the then LoPs Pankaj Banerjee or Partha Chatterjee during the previous Left Front rule.
He also alleged that Majumdar was prevented from visiting Howrah on Saturday to “hide” torching of properties by a mob in Panchla.
Majumdar was arrested on Saturday afternoon when he was heading towards Howrah district. He was later released.
In an apparent reference to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, Adhikari said, “Only aunt and nephew are given security by police in the state.”
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also sought an update from Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi over Adhikari not being allowed to visit Howrah.
“Chief Secretary @chief_west has been called to effect immediate response to the communication sent by Hon’ble Leader of Opposition. This in context of earlier curtailment of his rights is inappropriate. Why have undeclared emergency!” the governor tweeted, sharing an image of a letter earlier written by Adhikari to Dwivedi urging the administration not to prevent him from visiting damaged BJP party offices.
In the letter, Adhikari wrote, “…many BJP party offices in Howrah district have been vandalised and as the LoP, I will be visiting such vandalised offices alone. The question of violating Sec 144 of CrPC does not arise…I will hereby require your good office to ensure I am not prevented from visiting the vandalised party offices in Howrah.”
Before leaving his home, Adhikari had said he would move the court on Monday if he was stopped from visiting vandalised BJP offices in Howrah district.
His assertion came after Kanthi Police Station in Purba Medinipur district issued a letter asking him not to visit Howrah as prohibitory orders are clamped in several areas in the district.
The letter, issued by the officer-in-charge of Kanthi Police Station, stated that concern over his security was the main reason for asking him not to visit parts of Howrah district where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed.
“I will visit our party offices in Howrah district that were ransacked. Police have asked me not to visit areas where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed. But I will not violate prohibitory orders as I will go there alone.
“If I am stopped by the police, I will move the court tomorrow (Monday). An LoP can’t be stopped from visiting a trouble-torn area,” Adhikari said before leaving his Kanthi residence.
“After putting BJP WB President Sukanta Majumdar under detention, Mamata Banerjee is now ensuring that LoP Suvendu Adhikari is not able to visit Howrah, where BJP offices have been gutted. Her entire focus is on the opposition, not on rampaging ‘Dudhel Gais’ (milch cows), as she calls them,” BJP’s West Bengal co-in charge Amit Malviya tweeted.
Reacting to the development, senior TMC leader Kunal Ghosh alleged that Adhikari wanted to visit Howrah with the intention of fanning trouble.
“What is the need for visiting areas where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed? He wanted to visit Howrah to create trouble. The BJP wants to destroy the peaceful atmosphere in the state,” he said.
State minister Sashi Panja said that Adhikari should cooperate with the state administration for maintenance of law and order.
“Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC is already imposed in the areas Adhikari wanted to visit. He should not visit those places as it might cause trouble,” she said.
Protests erupted in several parts of Howrah district on Friday over controversial remarks by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled leader Naveen Jindal on Prophet Mohammad.
Agitators resorted to stone-pelting, setting police vehicles on fire and damaging public property during violent protests and clashes with the law enforcers in the district. Fresh violent protests were reported in Panchla on Saturday.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been clamped in several areas of Howrah including Uluberia, Panchla and Domjur till June 15 and internet services have been suspended in the entire district till June 13 to prevent the spread of misinformation.
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