TMC march to city police HQ a 'damp squib'

Written by Political Bureau | Kolkata, Oct 20 | Updated: Oct 21 2008, 07:39am hrs
The Trinamool Congress' much-touted Lalbazar siege turned into a damp squib on Monday. Thousands of TMC activists marched towards the Kolkata police headquarters at Lalbazar to protest against the actions of the 'biased' commissioner of police, Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti, and police highhandedness in dealing with public. But the day, which according to the Trinamool bigwigs, was to bring back memories of July 21, 1993, when 13 activists of the Youth Congress had been killed in police firing, was hardly extraordinary. Party chief Mamata Banerjee was conspicuous by her absence.

However, a 5000-odd slogan-chanting crowd was enough to keep 10,000 cops on their toes. The mood was tense. However, no untoward incident was reported.

TMC supporters first gathered at the Esplanade Metro channel after reaching the city from various districts since morning. Later, at around 2 pm, the 'march' led by Opposition leader Partha Chatterjee began. Madan Mitra, Saugata Roy, Tapas Roy and Ashok Deb were among other leaders who took part. A huge police contingent escorted them.

The crossing of BB Ganguly Street and CR Avenue, where the cops put up a blockade, was the most sensitive spot. But TMC leaders as well as supporters avoided confrontation and quietly raised their voice from a small stage set up at Phears Lane, quite far away from the police headquarters, which they had promised to enter, violating 144 CrPC.

"A section of the cops has now become servants of the CPI(M) and the state government. Both police commissioner Gautammohan Chakrabarti and his brother Ashokmohan Chakrabarti are acting as agents of the CPI(M). People of Bengal are being terrorised," said Chatterjee, who allegedly had an altercation with the comissioner recently regarding an incident in Charu Market.

TMC leaders, who spoke in a provocative manner, however, asked their followers to show restraint. "One day we will return to Lalbazar after wresting power from the CPI(M). Then we will wash it with Gangajal. But not today," said Chatterjee as other leaders directed supporters to disperse slowly, much to the relief of the baton-wielding cops.