Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh got a taste of the ground reality in Darjeeling on Thursday when people from the Benoy Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) roughed up BJP workers accompanying Ghosh minutes after forcing him to cancel a public meeting.
The incidents took place between 3.15 and 4 pm in the heart of Darjeeling town. BJP president Amit Shah later called up Ghosh and inquired about the attack.
It was an embarrassing moment for the BJP as footages of the attack were aired by TV channels. BJP workers accompanying Ghosh and state BJP leader Joyprakash Mazumdar were punched and kicked in front of the media. A couple of men were beaten up with sticks and umbrellas as well.
The agitators were heard shouting “Long live Benoy Tamang” and “BJP go back.” Ghosh and Mazumdar watched helplessly as their men took the blows. A bearded man sporting saffron scarf was thrown against glass containers in a sweetmeat shop. The containers were shattered. Interestingly, the attackers did not touch Ghosh and Majumdar.
“Trinamool Congress and Tamang’s men carried out the assault. First they created a ruckus inside the community hall, forcing us to cancel the meeting. After we left the hall they attacked us on the street. The police were conspicuous by their absence. One can see that peace hasn’t returned to the hills,” said Ghosh after lodging a complaint at the Darjeeling Sadar police station.
“The entire episode was scripted in Kolkata,” alleged Ghosh, pointing a finger at the Mamata Banerjee government which is backing Benoy Tamang in a bid to corner GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
Gurung called off the 104-day-long bandh after Union minister Rajnath Singh appealed to him on September 26 and asked the Union home secretary to convene a meeting. Having supported the BJP in two consecutive Lok Sabha polls, the GJM has been depending on the NDA Government on the statehood issue ever since the movement began in June this year. The BJP, however, has so far remained silent on the demand for creation of Gorkhaland.
Superintendent of police A K Chaturvedi said policemen were posted outside the hall where the meeting was organised and also at the circuit house where Ghosh was staying. “The scuffling took place on the streets. We have registered an FIR and will arrest the culprits,” he said.
“We are not justifying the violence and Trinamool Congress was not involved in it. Dilip Ghosh did not visit the hills when people were suffering and now that peace has returned, he is making provocative speeches. The BJP is trying to fish in troubled waters and people unleashed their anger,” said state tourism minister and district Trinamool president Gautam Deb.
Trinamool secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee said Ghosh had been paid back in his own coin. “Dilip Ghosh said that he would teach us a lesson. See for yourself who taught him a lesson today. Anti-social elements who accompanied Ghosh were responsible for the chaos.”
After arriving in the hills on Wednesday, Ghosh said had chief minister Mamata Banerjee agreed to sit for talks, the NDA Government would have ended the impasse in Darjeeling hills long ago.
“The chief minister is keen to project the agitators as anti-nationals. Or else why would she slap cases under anti-terror law against them after a couple of explosions? Bombs go off every day in all parts of Bengal but anti-terror law is not applied anywhere,” Ghosh alleged at the beginning of his three-day tour.
Interestingly, he did not name the GJM and Bimal Gurung who, along with top leaders of the party, have been booked under sections of the anti-terror law, UA(P)A by the state police