‘Why midnight raid…?’: Mamata Banerjee reacts after NIA team attacked in Bengal’s East Midnapore, BJP hits back

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee accused NIA officials of attacking villagers at Bhupatinagar in East Midnapore district and not the other way around.

Village women attack an NIA team at Bhupatinagar nagar in East Midnapore district on April 6. (PTI)

A fresh political row has erupted in West Bengal after a vehicle carrying National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials was on Saturday attacked by villagers at Bhupatinagar in East Midnapore district, where they had gone to investigate a 2022 bomb blast case in which three persons were killed. Hours after the incident, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee accused NIA officials of attacking villagers at Bhupatinagar and not the other way around.

Mamata Banerjee alleged that the probe agency team had gone to the houses of villagers in the early hours over an incident of “bursting of crackers in 2022”.

“The attack was not carried out by women of Bhupatinagar, it was by the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” news agency PTI quoted the Bengal chief minister as saying at an election rally in South Dinajpur district’s Balurghat.

“Will the women sit back if they are attacked?” Mamata Banerjee said, adding that they had only protested after NIA officials went to some of their houses over the December 2022 incident.

“Why did they raid at midnight? Did they have police permission? Locals reacted in the way they would have if any other stranger had visited the place at midnight. Why are they arresting people right before the elections? What does the BJP think, that they will arrest every booth agent? What right does the NIA have? They are doing all these to support the BJP. We call upon the entire world to fight against this BJP’s dirty politics,” news agency ANI quoted the Trinamool Congress as saying.

The central probe team arrested two persons in connection with the case and when they were on the way back to Kolkata, their vehicle came under attack. Later, the NIA team lodged a complaint at Bhupatinagar police station, PTI reported quoted a official.

The Trinamool Congress chief accused the BJP government at the Centre of trying to use the central agencies to win the elections.

“We want the Election Commission to work impartially, not turn into a BJP-run commission,” she said.

BJP hits back at Mamata Banerjee

Reacting to the incident, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya alleged that West Bengal continued to remain lawless, as ever, under Mamata Banerjee’s misrule.

“After attack on ED officials, now another central agency has come under attack. A team of NIA officers, which went to Bhupatinagar in East Medinipur District of West Bengal, to arrest two TMC leaders, were targeted. 100/150 villagers, not only stopped the NIA team from arresting the accused, but also hurled stones at their vehicles,” Amit Malviya wrote on X.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without local police’s involvement. All criminals in Bengal, from Shahjahan Sheikh to Anubroto Mondal, enjoy TMC’s protection,” he claimed.

NIA arrests two

The duo, Balai Charan Maity and Manobrata Jana, were arrested after extensive searches at five locations, including the house of Jana, where a crowd of local residents tried to obstruct the NIA team which raided the area early Saturday in connection with the West Bengal’s Bhupatinagar blast, ANI reported.

According to the anti-terror agency, one NIA team member suffered minor injuries and the agency’s official vehicle was also damaged as some miscreants in the crowd assaulted them.

“The aggressive crowd tried to stop the NIA team and its security component from moving towards Bhupatinagar police station to complete the arrest formalities. NIA has lodged a complaint at the local police station in this regard,” said the NIA in a statement.

Manobrata Jana, and the other arrested accused, identified as Balai Charan Maity, were found to have conspired to manufacture and explode crude bombs to spread terror, it said.

Three persons were killed in the December 2022 explosion in the house of one Rajkumar Manna in village Naruabilla in East Medinipur district.

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