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Trinamool student leader arrested after he threatens to blow up police station

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Kolkata: A Trinamool Congress student union leader was arrested and sent to custody on Wednesday following allegations that he publicly threatened to blow up a police station and set afire the officer-in-charge’s car for sending policemen to a college when the principal was kept under siege by students.

Soumitra Banerjee, the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) Block President of Raniganj in Burdwan district, on Tuesday allegedly threatened the officer-in-charge and even exhorted his loyalists not to be afraid of police “who are mere servants of the government run by us”.

Banerjee apparently lost his cool after officer-in-charge Arnab Guha sent police personnel for rescuing Tribeni Devi Bhalotia College principal Swadesh Majumdar, who was kept under siege by TMCP activists who demanded the deadline for online admissions be extended.

They also demanded that students from rural pockets be allowed to complete the admission process.

“How dare you send in police to the college without the principal having called you? I’m giving you five minutes. Ask the officer-in-charge to come. If he does not, I will bomb the police station and set his vehicles ablaze,” Banerjee allegedly told a policeman over his mobile phone.

That was not the end.

The leader next addressed the TMCP activists, telling them that police will not be able to do anything to them.

“Don’t be afraid. Police won’t be able to do anything. Police are mere servants of the government run by us,” he said.

As TV channels began airing the bytes of his explosive comments, opposition parties, educationists and the civil society lashed out against the state’s Trinamool government and demanded Banerjee’s immediate arrest.

“No wonder he is saying such things. He has learnt it from his seniors in the party. This is only symbolic of the all-round decadence we see in the state,” said former Vice Chancellor Anandadeb Mukhopadhyay, taking a dig at Birbhum district Trinamool President Anubrata Mondal, who is known for making controversial remarks like urging his loyalists to burn residences of dissidents and bomb police personnel.

Leaders of the CPI-M, BJP and the Congress condemned Banerjee’s comments.

As the issue seemed to be snowballing, TMCP state chief Ashok Rudra announced on Tuesday night that Banerjee has been suspended.

On Wednesday, Banerjee was arrested and presented in court, which sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.

Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee later told media persons that Banerjee has been expelled. “Administrative action is being taken against him,” he said. (IANS)

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Ensuing assembly polls, enclave exchange, Saradha scam ruled Bengal in 2015

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Kolkata: With assembly polls ensuing in West Bengal, the political scenario in the state witnessed a lot of developments. While, after a long wait, 64 files on legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose were declassified, the CBI’s probe on Sarada scam grilled some Trinamool leaders but the party continued its dominance. Furthermore, around 51,000 enclave dweller’s painful stateless existence come to a happy end with the implementation of the accord on the exchange of enclaves.

In a bid to win the elections. Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wooed the Muslims, who comprise 27 percent of the state’s population, the CPI-M and the BJP effected a change of guard.

History was made on August 1 as India and Bangladesh implemented the 40-year-old Land Boundary Agreement by exchanging 162 adversely held enclaves, resulting in 14,000 residents of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in Cooch Behar district becoming Indian citizens.

About 37,000 people, inhabiting 111 Indian enclaves in four Bangladeshi districts got the country’s citizenship.

In another historic step, the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala bus service was flagged off, reducing travel time between the two Indian cities to less than half.

In September, Banerjee declassified 64 files on Netaji Bose, stressing the need to solve the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Though there was a general feeling that the files made no startling disclosures, it helped Banerjee score some political brownie points and outsmart the BJP-led central government which also promised to make public hitherto secret files on Bose.

However, the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scandal being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the Supreme Court’s instructions, continued to embarrass the Trinamool.

While former minister and party bigwig Madan Mitra, arrested last December for his complicity in the scam, continues to languish in the jail, the CBI in January grilled Banerjee’s then right-hand man Mukul Roy, sparking cries of “vendetta” and “conspiracy” from the Trinamool.

But with Roy virtually going against the Trinamool line to announce he would “fully cooperate” with the CBI, there was much speculation that the ex-railway minister would either float a new party or join some other outfit.

As Roy started skipping Trinamool meetings, Banerjee stripped him of all his posts and relegated him to the Rajya Sabha back benches. But as the year reached its last lap, there were indications of their mending fences, ahead of the poll year.

The Saradha probe has apparently not dented the Trinamool’s electoral fortunes. The party decimated the opposition in the Bongaon Lok Sabha and Krishnaganj assembly by-polls, easily retained the Kolkata Municipal Corporation board, and romped to victory in district civic body contests.

The BJP, which in 2014 seemed to be emerging as the second largest force, failed to maintain the momentum, with political circles pointing to the absence of a popular face in the state party to sway the masses.

At last in December, the BJP appointed an RSS man, Dilip Ghosh, as its state president, replacing Rahul Sinha, and embarked on a law violation campaign.

Nine months ago, Left Front spearhead CPI-M anointed the comparatively young Surjya Kanta Mishra (66) as its state secretary, in place of the 75-year-old Biman Bose and opted for new leaders in a majority of its committees from the local to the district level.

At the fag end of the year (December 27-31) the CPI-M is holding a plenum after 37 years to assess its organisational strength and decide on its future organisational and political roadmap.

However, though the top leadership is yet to spell out any clear-cut stand, sections in the CPI-M and other LF partners are seeking an electoral understanding with the Congress, arguing that the weakened LF on its own cannot combat the Trinamool.

The Congress is a house divided on the issue. While some leaders favour a tie-up with the Left, a faction wants to ally with the Trinamool – and then there are those who want the party to go it alone.

But Banerjee, apparently to nip in the bud any possibility of a Congress-LF tie-up, openly sided with the Congress when its chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi were summoned by a court on an alleged graft case related to the National Herald newspaper. The Left chose to keep a distance from the Congress on the issue.

Banerjee also announced goodies affecting a majority of the population. While the government would distribute nearly Rs 600 crore (nearly $91 million) to support 10,000 clubs, around 70 million out of the state’s 90 million population is to get rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kg.

Several famed personalities died in 2015. They included former Missionaries of Charity superior general Sister Nirmala, legendary sports administrator and Board of Control for Cricket in India president Jagmohan Dalmiya, ex-assembly speaker H A Halim, double leg amputee swimmer and English channel conqueror Masudur Rahman Baidya and writer Suchitra Bhattacharya.

In a tragic incident, 20-year-old cricketer Ankit Keshri succumbed to injuries sustained in an on-field collision in April.

Over 30 lives were lost in landslides that wrecked the Darjeeling hills, the rape of a nun in a Nadia district church by bandits caused revulsion while the discovery that a man was living with the corpses of his sister and two dogs for over six months in the heart of the city triggered shock and disbelief.(IANS)