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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightMassive protests in...

Massive protests in Bengal after Kurmi leaders held for attack on Abhishek Banerjee’s convoy

Massive protests in Bengal after Kurmi leaders held for attack on Abhishek Banerjee’s convoy

Kolkata: Massive protests were held by the Kurmi community on Monday after West Bengal’s Jhargram district police arrested eight members of the community including two leaders, Rajesh Mahato and Nishikanta Mahato, in connection with the attack on the Trinamool Congress national general secretary and the party's Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee’s convoy at Salboni on Friday evening.

While four men were arrested on Saturday, the others, including Rajesh Mahato, a central committee member of the ongoing ‘ghagar ghera’ agitation demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for Kurmis, were arrested on Sunday. They have been remanded in judicial custody for 24 hours by a local court.

“The accused have been charged under several non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 307 (attempt to murder),” a district police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Following the protests, the normal functioning of Kurmi community leaders stalled in certain pockets of the tribal-dominated districts of Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore and Jhargram.

The protesters resorted to road blockades, processions and rallies. The leaders from the Kurmi community said that these protest demonstrations will continue and will take a more serious shape in the coming days if the arrested leaders are not released immediately.

"At the same time our movement will continue for the grant of Scheduled Tribe status," said Kurmi leader Ajit Mahato.

The other arrested leader is Anup Mahato, state president of the Adivasi Negachari Kurmi Samaj.

As many as six organisations are taking part in the movement. Various sections of the Kurmis are listed either under Other Backward Class (OBC) or Scheduled Caste (SC) categories.

Meanwhile, BJP's national vice-president and the party Lok Sabha member Dilip Ghosh expressed doubts that attack on Abhishek Banerjee on Friday was a drama staged by Trinamool Congress to gain public sympathy.

"It is being alleged that the rear glass of the vehicle of state minister Birbaha Hansda was smashed. But there is not a single eyewitness to that. I doubt it is cheap publicity which ultimately will not work out," Ghosh said.

The police action started after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a public rally at Salboni alleged that BJP was trying to instigate a Manipur-like caste violence in West Bengal by instigating the Kurmis against other tribal people.

“I don’t believe my Kurmi brothers did it. The BJP carried out the attack using their flags. The ethnic violence the BJP engineered in Manipur has claimed so many lives. They want to do the same thing in Bengal, turn Kurmis and tribals into enemies. The BJP has given a lot of money to some local leaders to create an ethnic strife. They attacked Birbaha, an adivasi (tribal) woman. Our administration will take action”, Mamata Banerjee said.

A total of nine arrests have been made in this connection so far. All are likely to be presented at a district court on Monday.

The United Adivasi Forum, an umbrella body of Santhal, Lodha and other tribal organisations, announced on Sunday that a state-wide bandh will be observed on June 8 in protest against the attack on Hansda.

“The tribal communities will not tolerate the attack on their minister,” Tapan Sardar, a leader of the forum, told the media.

The Kurmis have been raising the demand for inclusion in the ST list for a long time and several blockades were held in recent years. Road and rail movements were affected in August and September last year as well.

The community has also demanded the inclusion of the Kurmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and recognition of Sarna as a separate religion.

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TAGS:Kurmi protestsAbhishek Banerjee
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