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Burning tyres, barricades on roads in Bhangar after arrest of leader of land agitators

Bengal Police will bring Alik Chakraborty to Kolkata on Saturday on transit remand granted by a Bhubaneswar court.

kolkata Updated: Jun 01, 2018 19:35 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Bhangar,Alik Chakraborty,Naxalite
A rally in Bhangar on Friday protesting the arrest of Naxalite leader Alik Chakraborty who was leading the agitation against the power grid project.(HT Photo)

Agitators in Bhangar blocked arterial roads and took out a rally on Friday protesting the arrest of the movement’s leader Alik Chakraborty on Thursday in Odisha. A Bhubaneswar court granted transit remand of four days to Bengal Police to bring the Naxalite leader in Kolkata.

Protests in Bhangar started on Thursday evening, hours after the news of Chakraborty’s arrest in Bhubaneswar spread. In the evening agitators took out a torch rally that covered a few kilometers in the area.

Read: “Funny to get ‘outsider’ label from Mamata Banerjee”: Alik Chakraborty

Haroa Road, an important thoroughfare in the area, was blocked since early morning on Friday. Bamboo poles, bricks and burning tyres were placed on the road to prevent movement of traffic.

While the land agitators, who were protesting the setting up of a power grid project in the area, were locked in a stand off with the ruling Trinamool Congress leaders of the South 24 Parganas district since December 2016, the fight assumed a different dimension after nine of the agitators contested the gram panchayat elections in the area and won five.

Chakraborty, a politburo member of Naxalite party CPI(ML)(Red Star) was the key man organising the movement that has spread to about a dozen villages.

Read: Little known Naxalite faction leads land agitation against Mamata govt

About a year and a half ago, Chakraborty was booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act and several other sections of the Indian Penal Code and the CrPC but was evading the police so far.

Earlier this year, Calcutta high court granted bail to two of Chakraborty’s comrades Sharmistha Choudhury and Pradip Singh Thakur who were arrested earlier under UA(P)A for their involvement in the same agitation.

“We demand his immediate release and hospitalisation. We would also like to make it clear that this arrest will not be able to weaken the movement,” said Mirza Hasan, a local and the spokesperson of Jami, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee that is spearheading the movement.

Read: Bhangar agitators file nominations through WhatsApp in face of ‘TMC intimidation’

The movement forced the administration to stop work on the near-complete power grid project since January 2017. It has already got active support from the CPI(M), the Congress and other small Left parties, the leaders of which also took part in the protest rally on Friday in Bhangar.

“We suspect that Trinamool-backed goons will feel encouraged by this arrest and will try to mount attack on the agitators. If a single of the agitators is assaulted, villagers will pay them back in the same coin,” said Sharmistha Chowdhury, who is also a central committee member of CPI(ML)(Red Star) that also has presence in Odisha and Kerala.

On Friday, protests were also staged outside Banga Bhavan in New Delhi and at the Bhubaneshwar court premises.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 19:35 IST