Mob assault: Mamata charges BJP, section of media with maligning Bengal, saffron camp denies charge

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Kolkata, Jul 11 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday blamed the BJP and a section of the media for maligning the state over the recent mob assault incident in Ariadaha in North 24 Parganas district.

Speaking to reporters at Kolkata airport, Banerjee said an incident of 2021, a video clip of which had gone viral, happened when Arjun Singh was BJP MP of Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency.

The BJP, however, denied the allegations against the party and Singh and accused the state's ruling party of unleashing a reign of terror.

She accused a section of TV channels of showing the old incident repeatedly ahead of Wednesday's bypolls at the behest of BJP.

"A section of the media and BJP are trying to malign the state as part of their damage control for the defeat that BJP has suffered in Bengal. The scandal that they ran doesn't align with Bengal's values. They presented a one-sided news item about an incident of 2021 continuously for 72 hours," she said.

The TMC supremo claimed that some TV channels are working in a biased manner favouring the BJP due to fear of CBI-ED raids.

"Some news channels are misleading people. They have become BJP mouthpieces. If the media wants to cross-check, there are people at the state secretariat. They can cross-check something with police to find the actual situation. Even when police are providing information, it is not being reported," she said.

"This cannot continue for so long. I am requesting them not to do this. If requests don't work, I will take legal steps," Banerjee said.

She named a couple of TV channels which allegedly operate in a biased manner, contending that she does not want to identify other such media houses as it would provide them "unnecessary publicity".

Reacting to the allegations, BJP leader Arjun Singh dubbed the allegations baseless.

"Everybody knows, be it Jayant Singh or Sheikh Sahajahan. They were all close to the TMC dispensation and this area Ariadaha falls under Dum Dum Lok Sabha constituency. The TMC is now making those allegations to divert attention," he said.

Senior TMC leader Sougata Roy is a four-term MP of Dum Dum Lok Sabha constituency and Madan Mitra is the local TMC MLA.

Echoing Arjun Singh, state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said the TMC and its goons have unleashed a reign of terror across the state.

"Be it Ariadaha, Chopra or Sandeshkhali, it is a well-known fact that the goons have the support of the TMC leadership," he said.

After the old video clip showing a person being assaulted by a group of people in Ariadaha went viral, police initiated a suo motu case and arrested three persons, including local TMC leader and prime suspect Jayant Singh.

Jayant Singh, who was arrested in 2023 in another case and was out on bail with a bond promising no further illegal activities, is now facing additional charges for violating this condition.

Later, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Chief Advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said Jayant Singh has a history of five arrests in various cases since 2016, indicating that law enforcement agencies had not shown leniency towards him.

He also said the person who was seen being beaten up in the old video clip was a man and not a girl as claimed by various quarters.

BJP leaders including the party's state president Sukanta Majumdar had shared the video on social media claiming that the victim was a girl. The gender of the person was not clear from the clip.

"Through technical analysis by the police, it has been established that the assaulted person is male. However, any form of assault is equally condemnable," Bandyopadhyay, a former chief secretary, told a press conference in the state secretariat 'Nabanna'.

He also expressed concern over the sudden resurgence of the 2021 incident ahead of the byelections.

At the press conference, ADG (Law and Order) Manoj Verma reiterated the police's commitment to taking stringent action against any attempt to disrupt law and order or engage in criminal activities.

Barrackpore Police Commissioner CP Alok Rajoria on Wednesday stated that eight persons have been identified from the footage, and stringent action will be taken against all those involved. PTI PNT SUS MNB