Alleged Trinamool Congress workers branded a 40-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter with the letters 'TMC' -- acronym for the ruling party in West Bengal -- by using a burning cigarette last Wednesday.
The incident took place in Hooghly district -- adjoining Kolkata -- after Bishnu Choudhury reportedly participated in BJP national president Amit Shah's rally and is likely to spell fresh embarrassment for the Trinamool, which is already facing the heat over Saradha chit fund scam, terror activities and alleged hooliganism on the part of its supporters on quite a few occasions of late.
Bishnu Choudhury was subjected to torture for reportedly attending Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata. Alleged Trinamool Congress workers branded the 40-year-old BJP supporter with the letters 'TMC' by using a burning cigarette last Wednesday. (HT photo)
Choudhury, a driver by profession, was allegedly threatened at gunpoint with dire consequences if he lodged a complaint with police, after being subjected to the torture.
But, the BJP supporter took up the issue with district leaders Saturday and mailed his complaint to the local police station, superintendent of Hooghly district police and the human rights commission through a registered post.
According to the BJP, some Trinamool leaders had warned BJP workers against attending Shah's rally in the heart of Kolkata on November 30.
"Choudhury not only refused (to relent) but also took a few neighbours with him to attend the rally. Once he came back to his home in the evening, Trinamool workers started threatening him," said Swapan Pal, the vice-president of the BJP's Hooghly wing.
According to the complaint lodged by Choudhury, a group of Trinamool workers abducted him from the road and took him to a nearby party office when he was returning from work Wednesday.
"The group assaulted me and then one of them pressed burning cigarettes against my chest to write the letters 'TMC'. Then they took me home... they threatened me at gunpoint and told me not to lodge a complaint with the police," said Choudhury.
"It's sheer autocracy in place in Bengal. The ruling party will now decide who will support which political party!" said BJP state president Rahul Sinha.
CPI(M) leader Bikash Bhattacharyya, an advocate and former mayor of Kolkata, said, "In 1971, Congress supporters hammered a nail in the head of a youth in Sonarpur (on the outskirts of Kolkata) who dared to support the CPI(M). Trinamool Congress …is an offshoot of the Congress. The party should be banned as their ways are no different from a terror organisation."
Congress state president Adhir Chowdhury too condemned the incident.
"We can't fight among ourselves to decide who will support which party. We can only win their (voters') hearts by campaigning. What is happening now is the manifestation of sheer panic by the ruling party. If BJP gains a foothold in Bengal, such brutality by the supporters of Mamata Banerjee's party will be solely responsible."
Frequent clashes between Trinamool and BJP supporters have been reported in the state following the April-May Lok Sabha elections, in which the saffron party won 16.8% vote share and bagged two of the 42 seats.
Shah, in his recent rally, sounded the poll bugle in Bengal, asking people to overthrow the government led by Mamata Banerjee in the 2016 assembly elections while making it clear that the BJP was trying to find a foothold in the state.
An officer from the Mogra police station said they had received Choudhury's complaint and an investigation was on.
"The victim has named a few local Trinamool workers and we would soon nab them. We are also checking whether the complaint is framed," an official from Mogra police station said.
Trinamool leaders from Hooghly, however, claimed the complaint was false.
"Chowdhury is an active political worker and was a Trinamool supporter even a few months back. He had recently joined BJP and their leaders are using him to frame false charges against our supporters," said Trinamool Hooghly district president Tapan Dasgupta.
Local BJP leaders have decided to hit the roads Sunday against the incident. "If police don't make any arrest by Sunday morning, we will gherao the SP office," said Krishna Bhattacharya, BJP Hooghly district president.