TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee’s convoy attacked in Bengal amid Kurmi agitation
Abhishek Banerjee had visited the Salboni area of Bengal’s Jhargram district as part of his two-month-long Nabo Jowar (new tide) Yatra.
Kolkata: Several vehicles trailing the convoy of Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee were damaged in stone pelting in the Salboni area of Bengal’s Jhargram district on Friday evening, district police officials said.
“The troublemakers not only pelted stones but also attacked TMC workers and policemen. People travelling on two-wheelers were beaten up. Around a dozen policemen suffered injury. The vehicle of minister Birbaha Hansda was damaged and her driver was injured,” a district police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Banerjee was visiting the area as part of his two-month-long Nabo Jowar (new tide) Yatra aimed at strengthening the TMC before the upcoming panchayat polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Tribal communities, such as Santhals and Lodhas, are in majority in the region. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has performed well in Jhargram and adjoining districts in almost all elections since 2018.
Banerjee's convoy was passing through a road where members of the Kurmi community were holding an agitation demanding their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list and several agitators were caught on camera pelting stones.
“The Kurmi leaders leading the agitation cannot deny responsibility. There was an attempt to kill us,” minister Hansda, a tribal community member representing the Jhargram constituency, told the media.
Abhishek called up chief minister Mamata Banerjee to inform her about the incident and addressed a pre-scheduled TMC meeting around 10 pm.
The chief minister is scheduled to join the Nabo Jowar Yatra for the first time on Saturday and address a rally at the same spot.
Addressing party workers, Abhishek Banerjee said: “I give 48 hours to the Kurmi leaders to declare in public whether their people were involved in the attack or whether the miscreants were BJP workers hiding in the crowd. I spotted some people throwing empty alcohol bottles. All miscreants have been identified.”
“I know how to fix the BJP. If the Kurmi leaders do not make a public declaration in 48 hours, the police will start taking action. You may have demands but this is not the way to stage an agitation. Peace cannot be breached. Common people cannot be made to suffer,” he added.
Former state BJP president Rahul Sinha said the TMC blames his party for every incident.
“Whether it’s a court order going against TMC or an agitation by the Kurmis, the TMC always targets BJP because it has been cornered in state politics,” Sinha said.
Several Kurmi organisations have been intermittently blocking roads and railway tracks in the western districts of Bengal since last year demanding inclusion of the community in the ST list.