TMC leaders detained outside EC office, stage dharna at police station

The party has been alleging that the central probe agencies have been targeting opposition parties at the behest of the BJP-led Centre.
TMC leaders Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Saket Gokhale, Sagarika Ghose, Vivek Gupta, Arpita Ghosh, Santanu Sen, Abir Ranjan Biswas and Sudip Raha during a dharna after a meeting with Election Commission of India (ECI), outside ECI's office, in New Delhi, Monday, April 8, 2024.
TMC leaders Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Saket Gokhale, Sagarika Ghose, Vivek Gupta, Arpita Ghosh, Santanu Sen, Abir Ranjan Biswas and Sudip Raha during a dharna after a meeting with Election Commission of India (ECI), outside ECI's office, in New Delhi, Monday, April 8, 2024.(Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Several Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders were detained by the Delhi Police on Monday while they were staging a dharna outside the Election Commission's (EC) office here, demanding that the chiefs of the CBI, NIA, ED and income-tax department be changed.

After they were detained, the TMC leaders said they would continuing their protest at the Mandir Marg police station, where they were taken by the police.

In Kolkata, a delegation of TMC leaders, led by MP Abhishek Banerjee, met Governor C V Ananda Bose in the evening to lodge a complaint regarding the detention of the party leaders.

Talking to reporters after the meeting with the governor, Banerjee said it was a "murder of democracy" and slammed the Delhi Police for manhandling the party leaders.

The Delhi Police, meanwhile, said the TMC leaders have been released.

However, the TMC leaders maintained that they will remain in the police station through the night and continue their protest.

The TMC leaders, including Derek O'Brien, Mohammed Nadimul Haque, Dola Sen, Saket Gokhale, Sagarika Ghose, MLA Vivek Gupta, former MPs Arpita Ghosh, Santanu Sen and Abir Ranjan Biswas and the party's West Bengal students' wing vice-president Sudip Raha, went to the EC office at around 4 pm.

TMC leaders Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Saket Gokhale, Sagarika Ghose, Vivek Gupta, Arpita Ghosh, Santanu Sen, Abir Ranjan Biswas and Sudip Raha during a dharna after a meeting with Election Commission of India (ECI), outside ECI's office, in New Delhi, Monday, April 8, 2024.
'Unholy alliance': TMC leaders meet EC, demands chiefs of CBI, I-T, NIA and ED be changed

They urged the poll panel to change the heads of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and income-tax (I-T) department, alleging that they are acting at the behest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre.

Around 5 pm, the 10-member delegation announced that they were sitting on a 24-hour dharna after a meeting with the full bench of the EC.

The delegation urged the commission to ensure a level-playing field in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and stop the "misuse" of central agencies against opposition parties and leaders.

The Mamata Banerjee-led party has been accusing central agencies of targeting opposition parties at the behest of the BJP.

"We asked the EC to intervene in the name of parliamentary democracy to preserve the sanctity of elections," Ghose said during the dharna as the members of the TMC displayed posters that read "NIA DG, ED, CBI directors change now".

The leaders were asked to disperse by the police, but as they continued their protest, the security personnel forcibly evicted them and detained them.

A police officer said the leaders were detained as section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prohibits large gatherings, is imposed in the area and no permission was taken for the protest.

The leaders were made to board a bus, which O'Brien said drove around for about an hour and a half, after which they were taken to the Mandir Marg police station.

A senior police officer told PTI that all the TMC leaders have been released.

"All women protesters were allowed to leave before the sunset. The male protesters were released at 9 pm," the officer said.

However, the TMC leaders said they will continue their protest at the police station.

"Our 24-hour dharna will continue inside the police station or outside. We will carry on," O'Brien told reporters from behind the gates of the Mandir Marg police station.

A spokesperson of the EC, meanwhile, said the poll panel has no comments to offer on the dharna by the TMC.

In Kolkata, an 11-member delegation led by Abhishek Banerjee went to the governor's house around 9 pm to lodge a complaint against the detention of the TMC leaders in the national capital.

"The AITC delegation went to meet the full bench of the EC with demands that were were already shared with the media.

Five of the 10 AITC leaders were MPs.

The way those leaders, especially the women, were pulled and dragged shows how democracy was murdered in broad daylight and the main instigator of this murder is the Election Commission of India," Banerjee said.

"People might wonder why am I saying the EC and not the BJP. People might wonder why am I not blaming those who control the Delhi Police or the CISF Central Industrial Security Force). The reason is that the responsibility does not rest with the government as soon as polls are announced. The whole machinery, be it of the state government or the Centre, goes into the hands of the EC once polls are declared," he said.

In a letter to the EC, the TMC alleged that BJP leader Jitendra Tiwari met NIA Superintendent of Police D R Singh on March 26 allegedly with a "packet" and left the flat empty-handed after the meeting that lasted for about an hour.

The party has alleged that during this meeting, Tiwari handed over a list of TMC leaders and workers to be targeted.

On Sunday, the TMC alleged an "unholy alliance" between the NIA and the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, prompting the premier investigating agency to deny any mala-fide intention and label the entire controversy as "unfortunate".

An NIA team was allegedly attacked by a mob on Saturday when it went to arrest two main suspects in a 2022 blast in West Bengal's East Midnapore district, sparking a political slugfest, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accusing the investigators of assaulting villagers.

The Lok Sabha polls are scheduled to be held in seven phases between April 19 and June 1 and the counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com