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West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday said the fear he saw in the eyes of people who allegedly fled from north Bengal and took shelter in Assam to escape post-poll violence cannot be described in words.
“These people are so terrified that they told me they might be attacked again because I met them. I cannot imagine they are living in such fear. They are facing political vendetta because they opposed the ruling party (in Bengal). I am alerting the government through the media. I will interact with the chief minister,” Dhankhar said in Siliguri after returning from Assam. “There is lawlessness in Bengal,” he added.
The governor was supposed to fly to Assam in a Border Security Force (BSF) chopper but the flight had to be cancelled because of bad weather. Dhankhar took a road trip. He was accompanied by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Cooch Behar Lok Sabha member Nisith Pramanik.
Dhankhar visited Assam’s Dhubri district and interacted with Bengal residents who fled from their homes following post-poll violence allegedly perpetrated by Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers. He met inmates of a relief camp in the Ranpagli area and expressed shock and grief at their plight. He assured that efforts would be taken so that they can return to their homes soon.
“The governor interacted with the affected people for nearly an hour and inquired about their condition. At present we have 176 people at Ranpagli and nearly 30 more at another camp in the district. While some have returned to Bengal, these people are afraid to go back as their houses had been allegedly burnt. We are providing them food and other basic necessities. They can stay in Assam as long as they desire. If they wish to go back we will facilitate their return,” said Dhubri superintendent of police Anand Mishra.
“The state government must uphold the Constitution. These people must be protected and brought back,” Dhankhar said after returning to Siliguri. He also accused a section of the media saying journalists did not report the plight of people. “I will visit all violence-hit districts of Bengal,” he said.
Reacting to this, Bengal panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said, “He is the only governor who does not adhere to any article of the Constitution. People died on both sides but he is meeting only BJP supporters. He is taking with him BJP MPs and MLAs. Why doesn’t he join the BJP?”
Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy demanded Dhankhar’s removal.
Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya defended the governor. “He is being targeted everyday by TMC leaders. This is not a healthy trend for democracy,” said Bhattacharya.
On Thursday, Dhankhar faced demonstration by a handful of TMC workers at Dinhata in north Bengal’s Cooch Behar district which he visited to meet alleged victims of post-poll violence despite a strong advisory from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The two exchanged strongly-worded letters on Wednesday evening. Banerjee accused Dhankhar of violating protocols by planning to visit Cooch Behar without the state’s sanction, while the latter accused the CM of showing no regard for the Constitution.
North Bengal happens to be a BJP stronghold although it bagged only 77 assembly seats against the TMC’s 213 in the recent polls. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the saffron camp bagged seven of north Bengal region’s eight seats. In the assembly polls, the BJP won 30 of the region’s 54 seats.