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Dozen journalists injured in Bengal poll violence, Mamata orders probe

Kolkata: At least a dozen journalists, photojournalists and TV channel camerapersons sustained various degrees of injuries after being assaulted while covering polls to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in the city’s posh satellite township on Saturday. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an inquiry into the assault on the journalists, a senior state minister said.

Calling the attacks as “preplanned” news channels, Zee 24 Ghanta and ABP Ananda, claimed that “miscreants harboured by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress” carried out the assaults.

Two journalists of ABP Ananda – Aritrik Bhattacharya and Prakash Sinha – and the channel’s cameraperson Partha Sarathi Chakraborty were attacked by a mob while they were reporting about booth capturing in ward number 31 in Bidhannagar area.

A 24 Ghanta journalist Bikram Das and cameraperson Mintu Basak were also injured in the attack at the same spot.

“After we had recorded how a booth was being jammed, a gang of goons attacked me and the cameraperson, beating us mercilessly. They even snatched away the camera,” said a profusely bleeding Bhattacharya. Chakraborty was beaten with sticks and rods, and was rendered unconscious, the channel claimed.

Basak, who was hit on the head with a helmet, has been admitted to a private hospital.

A woman reporter with 24 Ghanta claimed that a gang of people who had illegally swarmed inside a polling booth threatened to “rape her” and constantly hurled abuses.

Other journalists who were subjected to similar assault include Tanmay Dutta Biswas and Sharmin Begum of Kolkata TV, Arka Dey and Dipankar Jana of Newstime, and photo journalist Sanjay Chatterjee of The Telegraph.

TV grabs aired by ABP Ananda and 24 Ghanta showed Bidhannagar legislator Sujit Bose of the Trinamool was present at the time of the attacks.

Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Jawed Shamim said police were looking into the matter.

“We are looking into the matter… if anybody lodges formal complaint, we will take action,” he said.

“We condemn the incidents of violence against media. The chief minister has ordered an inquiry,” Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said at a media meet.

Chatterjee said the chief minister was gathering information on the incidents and those responsible for the attacks would be identified and dealt with administratively.

“The administration will look into the reasons, the circumstances that led to these incidents. We will also find out the agent provocateurs, and look into whether any political party, or any other interest group incited the violence.

“We want to categorically state that in West Bengal, rule of the law has been established under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership. As ruling party we will never want any breach of peace,” he said, accusing opposition parties Communist Party of India-Marxist, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party of attempts to foment disturbance over the past few days.

“The opposition parties – CPI-M, BJP and the Congress – have no manpower. They don’t have people behind them. So, over the past few days, they were trying to create a situation which was akin to destroying democracy,” he alleged.

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