States & UTs

    NIA officials attacked villagers in Bengal, not other way round: Mamata

    The Hawk
    April6/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Mamata Banerjee alleges NIA attack on Bhupatinagar villagers, defends their right to self-defense amid heightened tensions before West Bengal polls. Controversy ensues over central agency actions, political motives, and the role of the Election Commission.

    TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee

    Balurghat (WB): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday accused NIA officials of attacking villagers at Bhupatinagar in East Midnapore district and said not the other way round.

    Claiming that officials of the central probe agency had barged into several houses in the early hours over an incident of "bursting of crackers in 2022", she defended the villagers' response as self-defence.

    "The attack was not perpetrated by the women of Bhupatinagar, but rather by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team," she said at an election rally in South Dinajpur district's Balurghat.

    "Will the women sit back if they (NIA) go to their houses at night or they will try to defend themselves?" she asked.

    The NIA on Saturday arrested two key conspirators in a 2022 blast case amid an attack on the probe agency's team by a crowd in East Medinipore district, an official said.

    An NIA officer was injured and a vehicle belonging to the probe agency was damaged in the attack, a spokesperson of the federal investigating agency said.

    Later, the NIA team lodged a complaint at Bhupatinagar police station, an official said.

    Alleging a political motive in the NIA action and an attempt to intimidate TMC workers, she questioned why the agency was arresting people days before the polls in a case dating back to December 2022.

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    The Trinamool Congress chief accused the BJP government at the Centre of trying to use the central agencies to win the elections.

    "We want the Election Commission to work impartially, not turn into a BJP-run commission," she said.

    Questioning the transfer of state's police officers by the EC, she asked why ED, CBI and IT officers have not been changed.

    "NIA, CBI are brothers of BJP; the ED (Enforcement Directorate) and Income Tax are funding boxes of BJP," Banerjee said.

    Stating that while the state police looks after law and order throughout the year, central forces like the BSF, CRPF and CISF are brought in during the elections, she added.

    "If you (BJP) have the power, win the election by fighting in a democratic manner. Don't arrest my booth-level workers and election agents," she said at the rally.

    She condemned the arrests of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren by central agencies over cases related to excise policy and an alleged land scam, respectively.

    "There must be a level-playing field in the elections," she said.

    The chief minister said why should she introduce Ayushman Bharat scheme in Bengal when she is providing healthcare facilities to nine crore people under her pet Sasthya Sathi programme, claiming that the central healthcare scheme will benefit only one crore people with equal share of funding from the state government.

    She said several schemes were introduced by her government for various categories of people such as Kanyashree, Sikshasree, agricultural produce insurance, old age pension, Lakshmir Bhandar for women, among others.

    In an oblique reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal guarantees on different issues, Banerjee said, "my guarantee is people."

    "The guarantee of Ma, Maati, Manush is Lakshmir Bhandar, Kanyashree, Sabuj Sathi and Sasthya Sathi schemes," she said.

    Stating that her administration has sought EC's permission to construct 5,000 houses for the storm-hit people in Jalpaiguri district, she said, "But they are waiting for Modi babu to come and give his nod and only after that they will give clearance."

    Maintaining that there was some unrest in Sandeshkhali over land grab issues, Banerjee said the state police and administration have arrested the accused and are returning land to the villagers.

    BJP has fielded Rekha Patra from Basirhat constituency, where Sandeshkhali is situated.

    Banerjee accused BJP's West Bengal state president Sukanta Majumdar, the party's candidate from Balurghat for a second consecutive term, of not doing anything for the people of Bengal and speaking against releasing central funds to the state.

    Addressing the rally in favour of TMC candidate Biplab Deb, the chief minister claimed that those accused of atrocities on women in BJP-ruled states were not brought to book.