Arrest of TMC leaders by CBI: TMC activists protest across Bengal

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(Eds: With fresh inputs) Kolkata, May 17 (PTI) Irate Trinamool Congress activists held frenzied demonstrations across the state on Monday in protest against the arrest of two senior ministers and a party MLA by the CBI in connection with its probe into the Narada sting tapes case.

The party workers, who were angry with the central agency and hurled stones at its office, broke into jubilation after a special CBI court granted them interim bail.

However, the feeling of happiness turned to despair after the Calcutta High Court stayed the decision of the lower court to grant bail to ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former TMC leader Sovan Chatterjee.

TMC workers shouted slogans 'Hai Hai CBI', 'Hai Hai BJP' sitting in front of Nizam palace, the building that houses the probe agency's office, at night.

The TMC accused the BJP-run Centre of using the CBI for political vendetta due to the saffron party's recent loss in the assembly election.

Hakim's daughter Priyadarshini appealed to them not to show any discontent and create situations that will only strengthen the hands of the BJP.

'Please don't fall into the trap of BJP,' she said.

Earlier, party leader Abhishek Banerjee advised party supporters to abide by the law and not to break lockdown norms. West Bengal has gone into a 15-day lockdown from Sunday to tackle a rising surge in Corona cases.

A group of TMC workers in Chetla area, where Hakim resides, said they felt relieved after the court gave its ruling, and the verdict has further vindicated their faith in the judiciary.

As slogans such as 'TMC Zindabad', 'Bobby Hakim (Firhad) Zindabad', 'Subrata Mukherjee Zindabad' rent the air, the activists hugged each other before the central probe agency's Nizam Palace office.

'Bobbyda is our God. He and Didi (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) are the only ones who can help us tide over the COVID-19 crisis. (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi can only conspire against us, they will not save us,' one of the TMC supporters said.

Similar scenes were witnessed close to Raj Bhavan, where the agitators, during the day, had shouted slogans against Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, condemning him for sanctioning the prosecution of the four leaders in the Narada sting tapes case.

Some of them had come from as far as Kamarhati, a constituency Mitra represents.

'Madan da is working round the clock to provide COVID-19 care in Kamarhati. The BJP, which couldn't digest its resounding defeat in the just-concluded assembly elections, has influenced the CBI,' another supporter of the ruling party, claimed.

Hundreds of TMC activists took out protest rallies in the city and elsewhere earlier in the day, thumbing their noses at lockdown regulations, after the CBI made the arrests.

Some of them hurled stones at the security personnel posted outside the agency office.

In several areas, including Arambagh in Hooghly district and Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas, the protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads, demanding immediate release of party leaders. PTI SUS RMS NN NN

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