Minister denies giving instructions to police

CPI(M), Congress involved, says Partha Chatterjee

Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee on Thursday denied that the police were acting on his instructions when they went to Loba village in the Dubrajpur area of Birbhum district to retrieve the earth-moving equipment of a mining company.

“Certainly not,” Mr. Chatterjee told The Hindu when asked to comment on the reports that suggest that Superintendent of Police Rishikesh Meena had been directed by him to go to the village.

Mr. Chatterjee argued that if he had given such instructions to Mr. Meena would certainly have informed his seniors including Director-General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee.

Although Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had claimed on Wednesday that the “local police” had acted on their own, reports suggest that senior police officials were also in the know of the developments that led to Tuesday’s incident.

“The matter is still under investigation and these reports that are appearing are a part of the entire conspiracy,” Mr. Chatterjee said, alleging the involvement of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a section of the Congress in the incident.

He said that there were several interests operating in the area and the involvement of the local coal mafia and Maoists could not be ruled out either.

Mr. Chatterjee however did not deny that he had been involved in the negotiations with the villagers. He had even visited Loba and spoken to the villagers on the matter earlier this year.

“I have spoken to the villagers, the management of the company and senior district officials including the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police. I have held several meetings,” he said.

Mr. Chatterjee said that he had only been “proactive” and fulfilled his “duties as the State’s Industries Minister.”

The matter had snowballed into a confrontation because of the involvement of several persons with vested interests, he said.

“If the protesters had no idea that the police were coming, how come they were armed and ready, their bows and arrows in place, at 5 a.m.? Surely there is a conspiracy involved,” he said.

Mr. Chatterjee said that the protesters, who have refused to let go of the earth-moving equipment of the DVC-Emta Coal Mines Ltd since December 2011, have been misled.

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