Restrict yourself to sticks or water cannons. At the most you can fire tear gas shells, but don’t open fire no matter how grave the provocation -- West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has set out clear instructions to the police as they gear up to control the Left mega agitation to march to the state secretariat on May 22.
Pushed to near irrelevance by continuously dipping vote share, the peasant wings of CPI(M) and other left parties have announced the biggest agitation programme in recent times against the Mamata Banerjee government.
Incidentally, Trinamool Congress has always highlighted how the police under Jyoti Basu’s rule, opened fire on a similar movement on Congress workers killing 13 persons on July 21, 1993, a date Mamata Banerjee’s party observes as a Martyr’s Day every year as their annual flagship event. After she came in power, she constituted an inquiry commission into the police firing on that day.
“The chief minister is extremely sensitive that there should not be any such allegation against her administration. Therefore, strict instructions have gone out to the police to keep their fingers away from the trigger no matter whatever be the situation,” said a senior member of the state cabinet who wanted to remain anonymous.
The agitation on July 21, 1993 was led by Mamata Banerjee who was then the youth Congress leader.
“Though the proposed Nabanna ghearo on May 22 is basically a CPI(M) affair, the agitation has been given the label of protest of farmers. So any tragedy on that day will give CPI(M) to allege that the Mamata Banerjee government even opens fire on farmers. She really cannot take any chance,” the member of the state cabinet said.
According to the Trinamool secretary general and state education minister, Partha Chatterjee, the state government will not ‘fall into any trap of CPI(M)’. “No other state government had done so much for the farmers as the West Bengal government,” he said.
According to the West Bengal unit secretary of CPI(M)’s peasant wing, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a turnout of around 3.5 lakhs of farmers is expected at the protest march to Nabanna (in Howrah) on May 22.
Meanwhile, sources from the police directorate said that they have already started working out the blueprint on ways to stop the procession much before the state secretariat.
“Enough police will be deployed at all the points that lead to state secretariat both on Kolkata and Howrah side. Most senior officials will be on the streets on that day,” a senior official of the directorate said.