It is learnt that West Bengal Police Directorate was today told by Birbhum police that district Trinamool leaders and a Cabinet minister “continuously pressurised” the local police station officers and then Birbhum Superintendent of Police Hrishikesh Meena to recover the machine that was forcibly kept by Loba villagers for the last 11 months.
“The district leadership of the Trinamool Congress had been putting pressure on the local police officers to salvage the machine. A senior leader of the Trinamool Congress district committee asked the district police to recover the vehicle. There were intelligence reports that the situation in the village was becoming worse and there were chances of heavy backlash from the villagers if the police forcibly tried to enter the village. But under mounting pressure on the district administration, it was decided to recover the machine after the Pujas,” said a senior police officer in the state secretariat pleading anonymity. “Police tried to reclaim the vehicle twice. However, they retreated after the villagers. Internal police report points to pressure from TMC leaders to recover machine resisted the attempts. On November 5, the operation was planned after the local police station received a court order for reclaiming the vehicle,” the officer added.
Incidentally, the state government acted against the SP and asked Meena to go on a leave. It was alleged by the state administration that the SP did not inform the higher authorities of the police directorate in advance about the operation. However, sources said that Meena did inform his superiors about the operation beforehand. “The SP of a district is competent enough to take such decisions and conduct the operation as the vehicle was illegally possessed by the villagers for a long time. However, Meena had informed his seniors about the operation after it was planned,” said the senior officer.
Significantly, there are reports that Meena had received instruction from the office of Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee to recover the machine.
Meanwhile, Chatterjee denied the allegations that he or his office had instructed police to go to Loba village to take control of the machine. “The reports are baseless. I had not made any phone call to Birbhum police. No instruction was given by my department to the police,” Chatterjee said on Thursday. “The investigation is on and soon the truth will come out,” he added.
Reiterating once again, that a section of the Congress, CPM and some Left extremists were behind the incident, Chatterjee said that two months ago, when he had held a meeting with the villagers, they had agreed to release the machine. “What had happened that compelled the villagers to assemble at the crack of the dawn with bows and arrows?” he added and said it was a “conspiracy hatched against Trinamool to divert the attention from Haldia when the port issue was being settled”.