The police on Wednesday arrested CPI(ML) Red Star leader Sarmistha Chowdhury who was among those leading the farmers’ agitation at Bhangore against acquisition of agricultural land for a power grid and several housing complexes.
Choudhury, a central committee member of the Red Star, was arrested from Machhibhanga village in Bhangore. She will be produced before Court on Thursday.
Senior South 24 Parganas district police officers told PTI that Sharmistha Chowdhury was apprehended when she was pillion riding a motorcycle close to Machibhanga village in Bhangor and was on her way to a gathering of villagers. The driver of the motorcycle has also been held. Both were being interrogated.
Another senior functionary of the CPI(ML) Red Star Alik Chakraborty, also named in the FIR, was absconding and the police said raids were on to nab him.
Immediately after Sharmistha’s arrest, a group of villagers started protesting in the Natunhaat Bazaar and adjoining areas within the neighbouring Kashipur Police Station. The police were keeping a close watch on the development, the officer said.
In a statement, Red Star, however, said that Choudhury was arrested from Kolkata by plainclothes policemen while her other comrades managed to escape. A large number of policemen and Trinamool Congress goons began entering the villages and were attacking the people, the statement said. The party said it would organize a countrywide protest against the arrest.
Choudhury was named in the FIR prepared by the police after the recent violence in the area that claimed two lives. According to police, Choudhury was among those who had instigated the violence.
The ground for the arrest had been prepared by the ruling Trinamool Congress and the administration on Tuesday when party MLA Sabyashachi Dutta led a Trinamool rally and removed the barricades set up by villagers to prevent the police from entering the area and arrest the protesters. Police deployment in several strategic areas in Bhangore began immediately after the rally.
On Wednesday, a huge police force led by district Superintendent of Police Sunil Chowdhury, Commandant of the 9th Battalion of the state police Kankar Prasad Barui and other senior officers entered Bhangor after shying away from the troubled areas for the last eight days and took control of the abandoned Power Grid sub-station.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly asked the police not to immediately arrest the agitating villagers but to take “strongest possible action” against “outsiders” leading the agitation.
The police had earlier detained general secretary of CPI(ML) Red Star K. Ramachandran when he had arrived in Kolkata on his way to Bhangore. He had been forcibly sent to New Delhi.