Trinamul seniors rally behind Arabul

Bhangar, Jan. 9: Senior Trinamul leaders today rallied behind assault-accused Arabul Islam and spoke of wiping out the CPM at a "peace rally" held at the site of yesterday's clash in Bhangar.

Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy, state ministers Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim and Madan Mitra and several MLAs participated in a protest march from Bhangar's Bamanghata, the spot of yesterday's violence, to the Calcutta Leather Complex police station.

The Trinamul leaders blamed Canning East MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah, who was allegedly assaulted by Arabul on Sunday, and the CPM for the escalating violence in the area.

"Our meeting is going on here. If somebody barges in, will it be my fault? Am I to be blamed if something goes wrong? We have exercised restraint. The CPM should be aware of this," said Mukul Roy, addressing around 5,000 party supporters after the 4km walk.

Trinamul had organised the procession and two rallies before and after the march to protest what the party dubbed were attempts by the CPM and the Congress to destabilise the state.

From tomorrow to January 18, Trinamul workers across the state will participate in rallies to protest the "attack on Arabul yesterday by CPM supporters".

Trinamul sources said Mamata Banerjee had not uttered a word against Arabul because she "feels the party will need his services" for the panchayat polls.

Before today's procession started, ministers Hakim and Mitra addressed Trinamul supporters on a ground close to the party's local unit office at Bamanghata. Bystanders had claimed yesterday that Trinamul workers from the office had set fire to eight mini- trucks carrying CPM supporters to a march in Calcutta.

Cars, motorbikes and chairs damaged in yesterday's violence were kept on the roadside outside the Trinamul office for supporters from South and North 24-Parganas "to see". The torched vehicles ferrying CPM supporters to Calcutta for the protest rally were, however, removed and taken to the Calcutta Leather Complex police station.

Mitra said Trinamul would need "five minutes to wipe out the CPM from Bengal".

"Had we wanted, it would have taken just five minutes to wipe out the CPM. If we start walking, the CPM would have to leave Bengal. Maarte lagbe-na (we won't have to hit them). If Mamata had not raised the slogan of 'not revenge, but change', not a single unit of the CPM would have remained in Bengal," the transport and sports minister said.

Mitra called Mollah "pagol (mad)" and added that the party was firmly behind Arabul.

"Arabul ki goonda na mastan? Arabuler moto ekta taja neta, jubo samprodayer mashal dhara neta, mar khabe ar Bhangar-er manush ki rosogolla khabe (Is Arabul a goonda, hooligan? He is a young leader, he is a torch-bearer for youths. If he is assaulted, will the people of Bhangar eat rosogolla?) This is the last peace meeting here. The CPM will be responsible if there is any further violence," Mitra said.

Urban development minister Hakim claimed Arabul, admitted to a nursing home after CPM cadres allegedly assaulted him, had shown restraint.

"He is a responsible party worker who believes in democratic norms and is dedicated to the people. He was restrained in his approach. If Arabul is attacked by CPM cadres, we cannot remain silent," Hakim said.

Industries minister Chatterjee said: "People know who is the fiercest goon in Bhangar. The people of Bhangar know that a tiger will flee on seeing Rezzak Mollah. I have a list of cases he is accused in."

In its efforts to present a united face, Trinamul brought a Bhangar leader opposed to Arabul, Kaiser Ahmed, to the rally. "This is the unified face of Trinamul. No one has been left out," Mukul Roy said.

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