The Mamata Banerjee government is writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs protesting the sudden deployment of Central forces outside the BJP headquarters in Kolkata during Tuesday's clash between BJP and Trinamool Congress supporters.
With this, Banerjee's battle with the Centre has taken a new turn. The clashes took place on Tuesday afternoon and continued till late evening after the CBI arrested Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay.
According to a top officer of the West Bengal government, "When Kolkata Police is in charge of law and order in the area, the CRPF deployment was overreaching, and just not done. It is totally illegal. We are writing to the MHA to inform them about this episode, and to protest it."
The officer further added that video footage of the clash between Trinamool Congress and BJP workers and supporters makes it clear that the Kolkata police personnel were "trying their best" to control the unruly group of supporters of both parties, while the CRPF personnel were just standing there without doing anything. "So what was the point in sending them there?" he asked.
BJP state president, Dilip Ghosh told HuffPost India, "I was outside Kolkata, but I kept receiving reports that our party office was under threat, our state leaders were inside, but the local police were not cooperating. They were just standing there without reacting and I feared for the safety of our men there. So I requested our national leaders to send Central forces there."
Ghosh's acknowledgement makes it all the more clear that BJP leaders in Delhi had in fact, arranged for the CRPF personnel to be deployed outside the BJP state headquarters in Kolkata. CRPF IGP Central zone, Randeep Dutta, was not available for comment, and his office said he was outside Kolkata in an official tour.
However, DG CRPF K Durga Prasad told HuffPost India, "The CRPF was never deployed there. Rahul Sinha is protected by the CRPF and we had gone to the premise to ensure his protection. As soon as our protectee was out we left the premise. It is completely wrong to say that CRPF was deployed there."
Not so long ago – in December 2016 – Mamata Banerjee took offence with the Centre on a similar issue of "encroachment" into the state's law and order affairs. She had objected to the presence of the Army at toll booths on national highways. Banerjee stayed at the secretariat office, Nabanna, all night, saying she was responsible for the welfare of the state, and could not leave office as the security of the state was under threat.
The Army exercise was to gather data on load carriers that could be used in case of contingency. But a war of words ensued between the Army and the Bengal government, with the Army sticking to the fact that the authorities had informed the state about the exercise and the Kolkata police insisting that they had denied permission for this in the area under its jurisdiction.
Banerjee has at various times, alleged about the Centre overstepping its jurisdiction on different issues. And with this new episode, the state government has just got into a fresh controversy over who should handle law and order issues when such incidents take place in the state.
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