KOLKATA: Some 82 protesters, including students of Jadavpur and Presidency universities and CPI (ML) Red Star activists from Assam, were detained on their way to show solidarity to an anti-power grid rally at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Thursday.
Twelve activists of CPI (ML) Red Star, a Naxal political party, led by party leader Sunil Singh, against whom West Bengal government had earlier booked cases under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were detained at Belghoria Railway Station here on Thursday.
Sources revealed that police were interrogating the Red Star activists about their role in a similar anti-power grid agitation in Assam and whether any cases were booked against them in the northeastern state.
On the other hand, some 70 students of Jadavpur and Presidency universities and human rights activists were arrested as they attempted to take out a rally from Chinar Park area towards Bhangar. However, police released them after preliminary interrogation.
Though Trinamool Congress workers blockaded and bombed several villages in Bhangar to allegedly prevent agitators of Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra o Poribesh Raksha Committee from organising a public rally, the agitators took out a rally and conducted a meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty said: “People of Bhangar trusted you (Mamata Banerjee) as you had said that power grid would not be established if people don’t want it. People of Bhangar don’t want power grid so why are you pushing it?,” he said.
On the other hand, CPI (ML) Red Star leader Alik Chakraborty, dubbed as leader of the movement, invited the chief minister for talks with the agitators. “We invite the state government to sit for talks with us to bring back peace in the region. We are going to run for panchayat elections this year,” he said.
However, TMC leaders claimed that communists were fomenting trouble in the region. “Maoists are attempting to fuel tensions here. If people want, only then power grid will be established,” TMC strongman Arabul Islam said.
Another TMC strongman Kaizar Ahmed said: “CPI (ML) Red Star has amassed weapons in the villages and CPM is funding them. They threatened villagers to attend today’s meeting or face expulsion from the villages.”
Meanwhile, the Bhangar agitation inspired a similar agitation at Chanditala in Hooghly district.
The villagers on Thursday prevented power grid workers from establishing transmission lines on their lands demanding appropriate compensation stating that high tension wires over their farms would reduce agricultural output.