Trinamool Congress leaders refused entry into Assam, scuffle with police at Silchar airport

Assam police chief accused the TMC delegation of attack, injuring two cops

india Updated: Aug 02, 2018 23:58 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Silchar
Trinamool Congress,Assam,TMC leaders
TMC Party leaders shout slogans against Modi government while protesting against NRC in Parliament. (HT File)

A Trinamool Congress (TMC) delegation scuffled with security personnel at Assam’s Silchar airport after they were refused entry into Assam’s Cachar district on Thursday. The delegation flew to Silchar to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the publication on Monday of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that has excluded over 40 lakh.

Airport officials said the district administration was making arrangements for the delegation’s stay at the airport as the TMC members refused to leave. “They have agreed to return to Kolkata on the 7.50 am Air India flight. Tickets have been booked,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier this week announced she would send a to Assam after calling the NRC a plan to evict Bengalis and Biharis from Assam. She had warned the move will lead to a “civil war and bloodbath”.

Officials said the delegation was shown a copy of deputy commissioner S Lakhsmanan’s prohibitory order barring them from entering Silchar. They were asked to take a return flight to Kolkata. “They refused,” a police officer deputed to prevent them from entering the city said on condition of anonymity.

TMC parliament member Sukhendu Shekhar Ray alleged they were assaulted. “As soon as we reached the arrival lounge of the Silchar airport, we were confronted by a delegation comprising the district magistrate and police officers. A police officer hit me on the chest. Cops also manhandled Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Mamata Bala Thakur and Mahua Moitra.” Dastidar, who is a Lok Sabha MP, accused police of snatching their cellphones and thrashing them.

Assam police chief Kuladhar Saikia accused the delegation of attacking police. “We have kept them inside the airport. Some of them indulged in the scuffle in which two women police constables were injured.”

Banerjee directed the delegation not to leave the airport as they were detained. Officials said the TMC had been informed about the orders on Wednesday.

“This is super emergency. Trinamool MPs and MLAs were not allowed to come out of the airport. Police assaulted them. They are not lawbreakers but lawmakers. In Parliament, the government is making silly excuses and the home minister did not reply,” said TMC’s Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O Brien.

Congress’s Silchar MP Sushmita Dev asked the government to allow TMC members to enter the city. Assam BJP chief Ranjit Das justified the government action saying their intention was “malafide” and they had come to “emotionally motivate people”.

Three Assam unit TMC leaders, including state president Dwipen Pathak, resigned in protest against the party’s stand on NRC. “The party never raised issues concerning Assam in parliament. But when the state is about to get a complete NRC after years of struggle, Banerjee chose to oppose it and try and create tension in the state,” said Pathak, a former MLA.

Two more cases were lodged against Banerjee in Guwahati and North Lakhimpur for her “civil war and bloodbath” comments. Saikia said action will be taken as per the law.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 23:56 IST