Bengal Dashboard: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Targets Bengal CM's Spain Trip
Sep 25: West Bengal Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury criticized Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her trip to Spain amidst the rising cases of dengue in the state, suggesting that she can travel to Spain but seems incapable of empathising with the people's suffering.
"We had already cautioned the state government about the escalating dengue cases during August-September. This reflects the government's indifference to the common people's plight. While they can jet off to Spain, they seem disconnected from the hardships faced by our citizens," remarked Chowdhury during a press conference in Murshidabad.
Chowdhury's comments come amidst many political observers speculating the the I.N.D.I Alliance would not be able to agree on a seat-sharing formula in Bengal.
Sep 15: The continuing clash between Governor C V Ananda Bose and the state government over control of state universities has taken a very ugly turn.
The Governor first clashed with the state government over appointment of Vice Chancellors to several state universities.
The state government had requested the Governor, who is the Chancellor of state universities, a few months to approve its recommendation for extending the tenures of Vice-Chancellors of several state universities.
But the Governor refused to do so and started appointing interim Vice-Chancellors to those varsities.
The Governor also found fault with the constitution of ‘search committees’ instituted by the state government to shortlist a panel of names to be considered for full-time Vice-Chancellors of state universities.
The government then got a Bill passed in the early-August this year replacing the Governor with the Chief Minister as Chancellor of state universities. The Governor has refused to sign the Bill.
All this angered Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state education minister Bratya Basu. Both of them have issued statements against the Governor.
Last week, an angry Mamata Banerjee threatened an “economic boycott” of universities that follow the Governor’s orders.
Accusing him of behaving like a zamindar (landlord), Banerjee warned him: “If you (governor Bose) think you are more powerful than the chief minister, you are welcome to think so. But please remember that the state frames policies, not you. If you keep interfering, and if any college and university follows your directives, then the state will impose an economic blockade on them. We want to see how you pay professors and vice-chancellors. It will be tit for tat. We will not compromise”.
The very next day (Sep 7), Governor Bose Bose alleged that the academicians recommended by the Mamata Banerjee government for appointment as VCs were either corrupt, or accused in sexual molestation and harassment cases, or were closely involved with politics.
That is why, he said, he rejected those names and appointed interim VCs till the state came up with names that were above controversies.
Bose also alleged that five interim VCs he had appointed were forced to step down after receiving threats from goons or being pressured to do so by senior IAS officers.
The Governor pointed out that after the state government appointed some Vice-Chancellors last year, the Supreme Court declared the government’s actions were illegal.
The apex court had, while upholding a Calcutta High Court order setting aside the reappointment of the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, said that the West Bengal government had chosen an incorrect path under the law to “usurp” the power of the Chancellor (the Governor).
“The V-Cs had to resign. Now who would become the VC? Under such circumstances as the Chancellor of state-run universities I appointed interim VCs. The state education department said it was wrong. But the Calcutta high court said I was right,” the Governor said.
Last week, the Governor forbade Registrars of state universities from attending a meeting convened by education minister Bratya Basu. A few Registrars followed the Governor’s orders, and that angered the CM and education minister even more.
Governor Bose disregarded the state government’s demand that it be consulted while appointing interim VCs.
The clash between the Governor and the state government got uglier Thursday (Sep 14) when five interim VCs appointed by the Governor met Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Pradhan said that it was the prerogative of the Governor, as Chancellor of state universities, to appoint VCs.
He advised the Bengal government to concentrate on ensuring smooth functioning of universities so that incidents like the death of a Jadavpur University student due to ragging did not recur.
That amounted to fanning the flames and state education minister Basu on X (former Twitter): “5 slave VCs of State-Aided Universities so ‘authorised’ by Mr. Bond (Or Dipak Chat by Swapnakumar?) met a Central BJP Minister today! Hopefully the Hon’ble Courts are watching!”
Also, 12 former VCs whose extensions (as recommended by the state government) were turned down by the Governor sent a legal notice to the latter for “defaming” them.
It was these former VCs that Governor Bose had labelled “corrupt” or “accused of sexual harassment” or “playing politics”.
The dozen former VCs were obviously goaded by the state government to serve a legal notice on Governor Bose for “making false, disrespectful, slanderous and defamatory accusations” against them.
They have demanded that the Governor retract his accusations, offer an unconditional apology to them and pay them damages of Rs 50 lakh within 15 days.
This has intensified the battle between the Raj Bhavan and the state government, as the skirmish over state universities is set to get uglier now.
Trinamool MP Being Quizzed By ED In Cheating Case
Sep 12: Controversial Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan reached the office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) late Tuesday (Sep 12) morning for questioning in a cheating case.
BJP leader Sankudeb Panda had, two months ago, forwarded complaints by people who had given money to a real estate company--Seven Sense International--that she was associated it to construct apartments at Rajarhat, an exurb of Kolkata.
But the company did not deliver on its promise and allegedly cheated 429 employees of a public-sector bank who had invested their savings in the company.
Jahan, an actor, has denied any wrongdoing and said she had resigned from the company in 2017. She is one of the eight accused in the scam.
But a loan of Rs 1.16 crore that she claimed she had taken from the real estate company has come under the scanner. The company's promoters said no such loan was given to the actor to purchase an apartment.
Jahan came into focus during the infamous Park Street rape case in 2012. She was the long-time girlfriend of prime accused Kader Khan. She is alleged to have given him shelter while he was on the run. Khan was later arrested by the police.
ED Summons To Abhishek Banerjee On Day Of INDI Alliance Meet Triggers Protest
Sep 11: The Enforcement Directorate (ED)has summoned Trinamool Congress general secretary for questioning in the cash-for-jobs scam in the state education department Wednesday (September 13), triggering strong protests from the party.
Banerjee is scheduled to attend the first meeting of the INDI Alliance's coordination committee at Sharad Pawar's residence in New Delhi on that day.
In response to the ED notice, the Trinamool general secretary : “FIRST meet of INDIA’s coordination comm is on 13th Sept in Delhi, where I'm a member. But, conveniently served me a notice just now to appear before them on the VERY SAME DAY! One can't help but marvel at the TIMIDITY & VACUOUSNESS of the 56-inch chest model”.
Other Trinamool seniors also publicly lambasted the ED for summoning Banerjee on the day of a crucial meeting of the alliance's coordination committee. Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen alleged that the ED was acting at the behest of the BJP which is running scared of the INDI Alliance.
The ED has reportedly found that Abhishek Banerjee’s company--Leaps & Bounds Pvt Ltd--in which his parents are Directors and he is the CEO had laundered the proceeds of the cash-for-jobs scam.
Abhishek Banerjee had challenged a Calcutta High Court order asking the CBI and ED to probe his involvement in the scam, but his pleas were turned down by larger benches of the High Court as well as the Supreme Court.
Governor-Govt Row Over State Univs Gathers Heat
Sep 8: The battle between Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose and the state government over appointment of Vice Chancellors (VCs) to state universities has heated up.
Bose alleged Thursday (Sep 7) that the academicians recommended by the Mamata Banerjee government for appointment as VCs were either corrupt, or accused in sexual molestation and harassment cases, or were closely involved with politics.
That is why, he said, he rejected those names and appointed interim VCs till the state came up with names that were above controversies.
Bose also alleged that five interim VCs he had appointed were forced to step down after receiving threat from goons or being pressured to do so by senior IAS officers.
The Governor also mocked at and dismissed the Chief Minister's threat that she would stage a dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan. He said that CM, instead of staging a dharna outside, would be welcome to come inside the Governor's House and stage protests.
The Trinamool was quick to object to the Governor's statement, stating that Bose was acting at the behest of the BJP. The state government shot off letters to the five academicians who had stepped down as interim VCs asking them to corroborate the Governor's allegations.
Trinamool Leadership Smells Trouble After Hearing Of Cattle Smuggling Scam Shifted To Delhi
Sep 7: The Trinamool Congress is worried over the transfer of hearings on the multi-crore cattle smuggling scam from the state to Delhi.
A CBI court in Asansol allowed a plea by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to transfer the case, which the agency is probing in parallel with the CBI, to the Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi.
The Trinamool Congress leadership is worried because party general secretary and Mamata Banerjee's nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, is a suspect in the case.
The prime accused in the case, Vinay Mishra, was a close confidante of Abhishek and had fled the country.
Trinamool strongman Anubrata Mandal, his daughter Sukanya, his chartered accountant Manish Kothari and bodyguard Sehgal Hossain were arrested for their alleged involvement in the scam and are currently lodged in Tihar Jail.
The central probe agencies suspect that the proceeds of the scam,which runs into hundreds of crores of Rupees, were laundered by top leaders of the Trinamool.
With the case being shifted to Delhi, the Trinamool leadership fears that the central agencies will now summon Abhishek Banerjee and other senior leaders who are suspected to have been involved in the scam to Delhi for interrogation.
That, the Trinamool leadership fears, would be a precursor to their arrest.
Mamata Banerjee Threatens Economic Blockade Of State Univs If They Follow Governor's Orders
Sep 6: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has threatened to cut off funds to state universities if they follow Governor C V Ananda Bose's orders.
Banerjee also threatened to stage a 'dharna' in front of the Raj Bhavan if the Governor continues to interfere in the education, which is a state subject.
Speaking at a Teacher's Day programme in Kolkata Tuesday (Sep 5), Banerjee lashed out at Bose, who has been whimisically appointing interim VCs. A few days ago, he appointed himself as acting VCs of a few state universities.
Accusing him of behaving like a zamindar (landlord), Banerjee warned him: "If you (governor Bose) think you are more powerful than the chief minister, you are welcome to think so. But please remember that the state frames policies, not you. If you keep interfering, and if any college and university follows your directives, then the state will impose an economic blockade on them. We want to see how you pay professors and vice-chancellors. It will be tit for tat. We will not compromise".
The chief minister also told education minister Bratya Basu and officials of the higher education department to prepare for a "fierce battle" with the Governor.
ISRO To Help Jadavpur Univ With Campus Surveillance Tech
Aug 31: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will help Jadavpur University build a technical surveillance system on its campus.
A team from ISRO will visit the University next week to explore and evaluate surveillance technologies that can be introduced to keep a watch on and restrict entry of outsiders and check other activities like consumption of alcohol and drugs on the campus.
Governor C V Ananda Bose, who is the Chancellor of the University, had spoke to ISRO Chairman S Somanath last week and sought his organisation's help in setting up a robust surveillance system in the varsity campus that has earned notoriety for various anti-social activities, chiefly by radical leftists.
Last week, interim Vice Chancellor Buddhadeb Sau announced that 26 CCTV cameras will be installed in the campus. The state education department is likely to sanction Rs 37 lakh for this.
Racial & Sexual Slurs By East Bengal Football Club Fans On NE Students Shocks Kolkata
Aug 31: A huge number of fans of the East Bengal FC hurled racial slurs and sexually abusive remarks at students from the Northeast who had gathered at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) Tuesday (August 29) to witness a match between United North East Football Club (UNEFC) and East Bengal FC.
The match was the first-semi final of the Durand Cup that is organised by the Indian Army.
East Bengal fans also hurled stones, shoes and water bottles at the young boys and girls, mostly students of Jadavpur and Presidency Universities (watch ), from the Northeast. The East Bengal fans also tried to physically assault the Northeastern students.
Army soldiers, who were at the stadium to oversee arrangements, came to the rescue of the panic-stricken Northeasterners and escorted them to army and police vehicles which dropped them at different places in the city.
The police arrested only six persons even though videos of the shameful incident showed scores of young men, some of them bare-chested, casting racial slurs, making obscene gestures and even threatening to rape girls among the group of Northeasterners.
The students union of Jadavpur and Presidency Universities, as well as prominent citizens of Kolkata, have condemned the incident.
CBI Summons Minister For Questioning In Municipal Recruitment Scam
Aug 25: The CBI has summoned fire & emergency services minister Sujit Bose for questioning in the cash-for-jobs scam in several municipalities across the state on August 31.
Bose, who was the vice-chairman of South Dum Dum municipality between 2010 and 2021 when nearly 250 people were recruited in the civic body allegedly in lieu of hefty bribes, is the first minister to be summoned by the CBI for questioning in the new scam that surfaced a couple of months ago.
The summons to Bose comes days after the Supreme Court rejected the state government's appeal against a judgement by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court that allowed the CBI to probe the recruitment scam in 14 municipalities across the state between 2014 and 2016.
The CBI chanced upon this new cash-for-jobs scam while investigating a similar scam in the school education department.
The CBI discovered that Ayan Sil, who had manipulated OMR sheets of candidates appearing for recruitment tests conducted by the school education department, had done the same for the 14 civic bodies also.
Manipulated OMR sheets of candidates appearing for jobs in the municipalities were recovered from Sil's office by the CBI.
Bose, meanwhile, put up a brave face and said he would appear for questioning since he had nothing to hide.
He, however, added a rider: he would go to the CBI office on August 31 only if no disaster strikes any part of the state. Such an event would require his presence at the site of the disaster.
ED Recovers Incriminating Documents From Abhishek Banerjee's Firm
August 24: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has recovered many "incriminating documents" and digital evidence linking Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee's company--Leaps & Bounds Pvt Ltd--to the teachers' recruitment scam.
The ED searched the head office and two other addresses of the company of which Abhishek Banerjee is the CEO and his parents are directors over Monday and Tuesday (August 21 and 22).
The ED, in a statement issued late Wednesday evening, said that Sujay Krishna Bhadra (also known as Kalighat er kaku due to his close proximity with the Banerjee clan that stays at Kalighat) was the CEO of M/S Leaps & Bounds Pvt Ltd "that was used for making dubious transactions running into crores of Rupees".
Bhadra was the director of the company from April 2012 to March 2016 (at the same time that Abhishek was also its director from April 2012 to January 2014).
The ED, which arrested Bhadra on May 30 this year, has named Bhadra for receiving huge sums of money from the scam and laundering the proceeds of the scam through Leaps & Bounds Pvt Ltd.
BJP Fields Pulwama Martyr's Widow In Assembly Bypoll
August 17: The BJP has fielded the widow of a Pulwama martyr--CRPF trooper Jagannath Roy--as its candidate in the forthcoming by-elections for the Dhupguri Assembly seat in North Bengal.
The widow--Tapasi Roy--has been associated with the saffron party for the last few years. Jagannath Roy was one of the 40 CRPF troopers who were killed when a suicide bomber belonging to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed drove a car packed with explosives into a CRPF convoy in February 2019.
The by-election, necessitated by the death of BJP legislator Bishnupada Roy, will be held on September 5. The seat is reserved for Scheduled Castes and all parties have fielded local Rajbongshis who fall in the SC category.
The Trinamool, which has fielded a a college teacher, hit out at the BJP for politicising the deaths of the CRPF troopers. But the BJP countered that the Trinamool has always insulted the security forces and recalled that Mamata Banerjee had even raised doubts over the attack when it happened.
'Mamata For PM' Demand Rings Out From Trinamool Meet
August 14: Trinamool seniors have asked the party's 'digital warriors' to create a buzz in the social media for Mamata Banerjee as the best candidate among all Opposition leaders for the Prime Minister's post.
At a meeting of its 'digital warriors' held Sunday (August 13), senior Trinamool leaders asked them to popularise the slogan 'Bolche Banglar janata, Pradhan Mantri hok Mamata' (People of Bengal are demanding Mamata as the PM).
The Trinamool aims to flood social media with videos, reels, memes and catchy slogans pitching the party chief for the PM's post.
Senior minister Firhad Hakim said that his party will win all the 42 seats from Bengal in next year's parliamentary polls and Mamata Banerjee would be the "right candidate" for the PM's post.
Trinamool's chief spokesperson Kunal Ghosh asked the party's IT cell to highlight Mamata Banerjee's record as a seven-time MP and four-time Union Minister. "All of Bengal wishes that a lady in a handloom saree will hoist the national flag from the Red Fort on August 15 next year," he said.
'Life's Sole Motto To Drive BJP Out Of Power', Says Mamata Banerjee
August 10: Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee has revealed that the "sole motto" in her life is to "drive the BJP out of power".
Speaking at an event to mark International Day of World's Indigenous People at Jhargram Wednesday (August 9), Banerjee said she has a singular goal and motto in her life. "My only motto (sic) is to drive out the BJP from power in New Delhi," she declared.
Banerjee also lashed out at the Congress, calling the party "shameless" for siding with the BJP in Bengal while seeking an alliance with the Trinamool. "Every party should have principles. But the Congress is shameless," she said.
Banerjee said the Trinamool would fight the Congress, along with the CPI(M) and the BJP, in Bengal.
State Makes Learning Bengali Compulsory For Upper Primary Students In All Schools
August 8: The state government has formulated a new education policy that makes Bengali a compulsory subjects for students of all schools, including private schools under the CBSE and ICSE Boards, at the upper primary (Classes 5 to 8) level.
The new policy, which received the cabinet's nod Monday (August 7), lays down a three-language formula for the upper primary level.
Apart from English, which will continue to remain the first language, students can opt for two languages out of which the second language has to be Bengali.
The other language can be a student's mother tongue or any other language that is taught in that particular school. However, students will be encourage to take up Hindi or Sanskrit as the third language.
But the third language cannot be the medium of instruction for other subjects taught in schools.
At the primary level (classes i to 4), students will be taught English and their mother tongue.
Though the move to make Bengali compulsory has been hailed by some parochial organisations like the 'Bangla Pokkho', many other communities have expressed their reservations over this.
CBI Chief Visits Kolkata, Asks Sleuths To Hasten Probes Into Scams
August 3: Former Karnataka DGP Praveen Sood who took over as CBI Director in May this year visited the Bureau's office in Kolkata Wednesday (August 2) and asked officers to fast-track their probes into various scams in Bengal.
Sood met all CBI officers and men who are investigating the chit fund, cattle smuggling, illegal coal mining and recruitment scams in schools and municipalities of the state.
Sood took stock of the progress in all these, as well as some other cases. He urged the agency's sleuths to also build up foolproof cases against the accused in order to ensure their convictions by courts.
CBI sources said the main purpose of the Director's visit was to ensure that the ongoing probes into all the scams are completed as early as possible and strong chargesheets filed. Sood promised the CBI officers in Kolkata additional resources required to meet this objective.
Governor Opens Anti-Corruption Cell In Raj Bhavan
August 2: Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose has opened an 'anti-corruption cell' in the Raj Bhavan to receive and act on complaints of corruption, which he says is "all pervasive" in the state.
Bose said that the cell has been set up "basically to prevent corruption in state universities where the Governor is the Chancellor". "But corruption is all pervasive and whenever anyone comes across any attempted corruption, they are free to intimate the anti-corruption cell at the Raj Bhavan," Bose told reporters Wednesday (August 2).
The Governor said all the complaints will be analysed and taken up with the appropriate authorities for action. "We will also follow-up to see what action has been taken," he added.
The Governor's latest move has heightened tensions between the Raj Bhavan and the Mamata Banerjee government which has accused the Governor of interfering in the work of the state administration.
Education Minister Bratya Basu said that the Bengal Governor's allusion to widespread corruption was unfortunate. He had earlier said that the state government will appeal to the Supreme Court to restrain the Governor and make him stick to his Constitutional role.
Mamata Banerjee Comes Under Fire From Cal HC Over Proposed 'Gherao' Of BJP Leaders' Residence On Aug 5
July 31: The Calcutta High Court Monday (July 31) asked Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee not to proceed with his plans to "gherao" residences of BJP leaders from 10 am to 6 pm on August 5.
Banerjee had given this call to protest the alleged non-disbursal of funds meant for many centrally-sponsored projects in the state. A division bench of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya ruled that the proposed 'gherao' severely inconvenience the public.
Hearing a PIL filed by BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari against the 'gherao', the division bench strongly criticised chief minister Mamata Banerjee for endorsing the 'gherao' call.
"What are these statements? They are impermissible. And the same are affirmed by a person holding a Constitutional office, so it presupposes that the event is already planned....This is unheard of," the Chief Justice remarked.
The Court brushed aside assurances by Abhishek Banerjee's advocate that "no public hindrance will be caused". The court also took critical note of speeches made by Banerjee at a party rally on July 21 where he issued the 'gherao' call.
HC Bans Continuous Beating Of Drums During Muharram
July 27: The Calcutta High Court has banned the continuous beating of drums during Muharram and asked the state police to regulate the practice.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya ruled Thursday (July 27) that the practice (continuous beating of drums) is impermissible and "no religious tenets allows it".
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Shagufta Sulaiman highlighting the menace of drum beating throughout the last day of Muharram which falls on Saturday (July 29) this year.
The bench referred to a Supreme Court judgement which said that "citizens cannot be coerced to listen to what they do not like or do not want to".
The state government, while opposing the PIL, said that drums were played only between 6 am and 10 pm. The HC ruled that drum beating should be allowed only from late morning till 7 pm and asked the police to ensure that the noise decibel levels due to drum beating remained within permissible levels.
BJP Fact-Finding Team Asks For CBI Probe Into Panchayat Poll Violence
July 26: A BJP fact-finding team led by former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has urged for a probe by the CBI into all incidents of violence that marked the recently-concluded panchayat polls in the state.
The team, which submitted its report to party chief J P Nadda, said that "overpowering fear", coupled by a biased state police and state administration, as well as "cooperative" state election commission, had made a mockery of the democratic process.
Stating that a "sickening symbol of shameful democracy" reduced the panchayat polls to a farce, the committee said "it is necessary for the country to know that democracy has ended in Bengal".
"The state government’s arrogance and utter disrespect for democratic processes are dismaying," Prasad told reporters.
Law Minister Skips ED Summons Again, Agency Mulls Legal Action
July 26: Law Minister Moloy Ghatak failed to turn up at the Enforcement Directorate's New Delhi office once again Tuesday (July 25).
The ED wants to question Ghatak in the illegal coal mining scam. Ghatak had been named a beneficiary of the scam by one of the prime accused during questioning by the ED.
The ED issued summons to Ghatak, an MLA from Asansol North Assembly seat that is in the coal-mining belt of the state, many times in the past. He had been citing official engagements to skip questioning by the ED.
Last month, he promised to appear before the ED after the panchayat polls in the state got over. The ED then gave him 15 days' notice, in accordance with a court directive, asking him to appear for questioning on July 25.
Ghatak's repeated refusal to appear for questioning has led the ED to mull legal steps to force him to appear before the probe agency.
NIA Moves Calcutta HC Against Non-Cooperation By Bengal Police In Probe Into Ram Navami Violence
July 26: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the Ram Navami violence in Bengal, has moved a single-judge bench of Justice Jay Sengupta accusing the state police of non-cooperation in the probe.
The NIA has alleged that the state police is delaying or refusing to hand over case-related documents. The NIA had, earlier too, accused the state police of stonewalling its probe.
On April 27 this year, a division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya had handed over the probe into Ram Navami violence to the NIA while holding that it is beyond the ability of the state police to find out who instigated the violence.
The state government had challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court, but a three- judge bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra had dismissed the state's appeal earlier this week.
Violence broke out in some parts of the state when Ram Navami processions were attacked by Muslims. The division bench of the Calcutta High Court had observed that stone-pelting on processions from rooftops was indicative that the attacks were pre-planned.
Two Tribal Women Beaten & Stripped At Malda
July 22: A day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee outraged over two women being stripped and paraded naked in Manipur, a video of two tribal women being assaulted and stripped at Pakuahat area under Bamangola Police Station of Malda district has surfaced.
The incident occurred a few days ago. In the blurred video, the two women can be seen being brutally assaulted by about a dozen other women while a mob of men can be heard encouraging the attackers.
The BJP, whose leaders circulated videos of the incident, lambasted the Trinamool chief for remaining silent on the assault of women in her own backyard.
Faced with criticism, the Trinamool fielded women & child development minister Shashi Panja who offered a lame justification of the assault. Panja said that the two tribal women were trying to steal from a stall at the market and were caught and assaulted by other women.
The minister did not, however, offer an explanation on why the women attackers, as well as the men who instigated the women, have not been arrested.
BJP Candidate Alleges Assault And Molestation On Day Of Panchayat Polls
July 21: In a rerun of the horrific incident in Manipur, a BJP gram sabha candidate was assaulted, stripped naked and molested by Trinamool Congress workers on the day of polling (July 8).
The beastly incident happened at Dakshin Panchla in Howrah district adjoining Kolkata. The victim had lodged an FIR at Panchla police station.
The victim alleged in the FIR that while polling was on, the Trinamool candidate Hemanta Roy along with a few other party workers assaulted her inside the police station before dragging her out.
The Trinamool workers then tore off her saree and undergarments and molested her in front of many others. They also paraded her naked around the village.
The shocking incident came to light Friday (July 21) morning. The police have not arrested any of the accused so far.
Armed Man Arrested From Vicinity Of Mamata Banerjee's Residence
July21: A man, identified as Sheikh Noor Alam, was arrested while entering the lane leading to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's residence at Kalighat in South Kolkata late Friday (July 21) morning.
The man, sporting a black coat and tie, had traveled in a car with a police sticker on it to a spot near the CM's residence. He was stopped by cops while he was entering the lane, which is a prohibited and high-security zone.
One firearm, a knie and some contraband substances were recovered from him. Police sources say that the man was inebriated and was speaking incoherently.
Mamata Banerjee was at her residence at that time.
CPI(M) Will Fight Trinamool In Bengal, Asserts Senior Marxist
July 20: A day after senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury supped and shared the dais with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee at the Opposition conclave in Bengaluru, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim asserted that his party will fiercely fight the Trinamool in Bengal.
Salim said Wednesday (July 19) that the Trinamool was the CPI(M)'s primary target in Bengal, just like the BJP was at the national level.
Salim, a former Lok Sabha member, said that irrespective of his party being part of a joint Opposition front that includes the Trinamool, the CPI(M) would fight Mamata Banerjee in Bengal.
Salim pointed out that his party's stand against the Trinamool was decided at the CPI(M) party congress in 2015 and is not determined by Opposition conclaves in Patna or Bengaluru. Salim's anti-Trinamool stance will not be music to Mamata Banerjee's ears and will hamper Opposition unity.
Cal HC Flooded With Cases By Opposition On Panchayat Polls
July 19: As many as 91 petitions related to the panchayat polls in Bengal have been filed before different benches of the Calcutta High Court by Opposition parties.
Of these, 28have been filed by the BJP and the rest by Congress, CPI(M), Indian Secular Front (ISF) and Independent candidates alleging rigging, threats and intimidation by Trinamool Congress cadres.
No election in any other state has triggered such an avalanche of cases since Independence. Bengal has earned notoriety for violence, threats and rigging by the ruling party during and after each election.
Sealed Ballot Boxes & Ballot Papers Found A Week After Counting, BJP Alleges Rigging
July 19: A week after the counting of ballots for the panchayat polls in the state, sealed ballot boxes and stamped ballot papers were recovered from various parts of the state.
Three sealed ballot boxes were found at a locked room in a school, which was a receiving centre for ballot boxes, at Gazole in Malda distrcit. The ballot papers inside those boxes had not been counted, and the BJP has alleged that the boxes were replaced at the counting centre with fake boxes stuffed with fake ballot papers.
Stamped ballot papers were recovered from a field adjoining a school that served as a receiving centre at Murshidabad's Shamsherganj. The Congress alleged that the local BDO, who was the returning officer, allowed removal of the ballot papers at the behest of the Trinamool.
A huge number of stamped ballot papers were also recovered from the banks of a river in Nadia district. Those ballot papers, cast by voters who had stamped on the BJP symbol, were for elections to three gram panchayats that the Trinamool won amidst allegations of widespread rigging.
Abhishek Banerjee Slams Cal HC Judge, Accuses Him Of 'Defiling Judiciary'
July 15: Calcutta High Court Justice Rajshekhar Mantha became the target of Trinamool's ire once again with party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee slamming him for "defiling the judiciary" and "working on Delhi's orders".
Banerjee was angry with Justice Mantha's order, passed in December last year, granting protection to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from arrest by the state police. The Court had granted the protection after multiple FIRs were filed against the Opposition leader.
Speaking to reporters Friday (July 14) after visiting some Trinamool workers who had been injured in clashes with BJP workers in East Midnapore (Adhikari's turf), Banerjee accused Justice Mantha of "making a particular political party stronger and healthy".
Justice Mantha had been targeted by lawyers affiliated to the Trinamool in January this year also. A large group these lawyers staged a dharna outside his court and prevented other lawyers from entering the courtroom. Derogatory posters were also put up outside the Judge's residence in South Kolkata.
Police-ISF Cadre Clash Outside Counting Centre In South 24 Parganas
A clash erupted outside a vote counting center in the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, leaving several policemen and Indian Secular Front (ISF) supporters injured, according to local authorities.
The incident occurred late Tuesday night, 11 July, in Bhangore, when members of the Indian Secular Front (ISF) reportedly threw bombs outside the counting center.
In response, the police resorted to a baton charge to regain control of the situation, as stated by a senior officer.
To disperse the crowd, law enforcement personnel fired rubber bullets and launched tear gas shells.
The ISF is the party formed by Abbas Siddiqui, a cleric of the Furfura Sharif of Hooghly.
Meanwhile, counting of votes, that began on Tuesday morning, is still going on. The State Election Commission had conducted the polls through ballots rather than EVMs.
As per the last reports till late afterno, these are the results and trends emerging from the counting of the Panchayat elections in Bengal:
The TMC (Trinamool Congress) has won in 12,518 gram panchayat seats, and is leading in 3,620 seats.
The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has won in 2,781 seat and is leading in 915 seats.
The Left Front has won in 959 seats while the CPI(M) (Communist Party of India (Marxist)) alone has won in 910 seats and is leading in 550 seats.
The Congress has won 625 seats and leading in 276.
The total number of seats in contention are 63,229.
Counting of votes for the just-concluded panchayat polls will begin at 8 am Tuesday (July 11) at 339 counting centres all over the state.
There will be six rounds of counting and the final results are only expected by late evening. Physical counting of ballot papers takes time; EVMs were not used because Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee opposes them.
Since votes for the gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads will be taken up one after the other, the entire process is laborious and takes a lot of time.
The Calcutta High Court ordered Monday (July 10) that all counting centres should be cordoned by central fores. One company of CAPF or state armed police sent by the Union Government will guard each counting centre.
Governor MeetsAmit Shah, Submits Report On Panchayat Poll Violence
July 11: Governor C V Ananda Bose, who flew to New Delhi Sunday evening, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday (July 10) and submitted a report on panchayat poll-related violence in the state.
Bose also shared his experiences during his visits to trouble-torn areas of the state over the past couple of weeks. He apprised Shah of the complaints received by Raj Bahwan from victims of violence and on threats and intimidation of Opposition workers and supporters by Trinamool cadres.
After his 30-minute meeting with Shah, the Governor told reporters: “The darkest hour is before dawn and there will be light at the end of the tunnel. If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Governor Bose also met President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Death Toll In Poll Violence Goes Up To 41
July 11: The death toll on poll violence in the state has gone up to 41 with three persons who were seriously injured during campaigning and on the day of polling (on July 8) succumbing to their injuries.
Two of the four belonged to the Trinamool Congress, while one was a BJP workers and another a CPI(M) cadre.
BJP Fact-Finding Team In State Today
July 11: A four-member fact-finding team of the BJP will land in Bengal Tuesday (July 11) to prepare a report on violence perpetrated by Trinamool cadres on BJP workers and supporters.
The delegation, led by former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, will comprise former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, Assam Lok Sabha MP Rajdeep Roy and party national vice-president Rekha Verma.
The BJP team will go to the districts and speak to BJP workers and supporters to get a first-hand account of the violence as well as the threats and intimidation faced by BJP workers and their families.
July 10: The Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee by rejecting his appeal against a Calcutta High Court order asking the CBI and the ED to probe his involvement in the cash-for-school jobs scam.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court had on April 13, asked the CBI and ED to probe Banerjee's involvement in the scam that has already netted senior Trinamool leaders, their aides and several officials.
Banerjee petitioned the apex court against this order and cited Justice Gangopadhyay's interview to a TV channel in which he had criticised Abhishek. The Supreme Court, on April 24, directed that the case be reassigned to another judge.
Justice Amrita Sinha (of the Calcutta High Court) who was reassigned the case upheld the earlier HC order on May 18. Banerjee went on appeal against this order once again.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha rejected Banerjee's appeal Monday (July 10). This clears the way for the CBI and ED to summon Banerjee once again for questioning and pursuing the probe vigorously.
Poll Panel Orders Re-Poll In 696 Booths Today
July 10: The state election commission (SEC) has ordered re-poll in 696 booths Monday (July 10).
The re-polling will be held under heavy security with four armed men of a central force and four of a state armed police guarding the booths.
The maximum number of booths where re-polling is being held are in Murshidabad (175 booths), which saw intense violence on the day of polling (Saturday, July 8). That district is followed by Malda (109 booths), Nadia (89 booths), Cooch Behar (53 booths), North 2 Parganas (46 booths) and North Dinajpur (43 booths).
Opposition parties had, however, demanded repoll in nearly 12,000 booths that has either been 'captured' by Trinamool cadres or had witnessed proxy voting or other malpractices and violence.
Four Die In Post-Poll Violence
Four persons, three belonging to the Trinamool and one of the BJP, died in post-poll violence in Bengal Sunday (July 9).
While a TMC worker was stabbed to death at Bhagabanpur in Malda, a BJP worker was found dead at Hemtabad in North Dinajpur. Two Trinamool workers were killed at Basanti in South 24 Parganas.
Central Forces Accuse State Election Commission Of 'Inffective' Deployment
A senior spokesperson of the central armed police forces (CAPFs) accused the state election commission (SEC) of various acts of omission.
Border Security Force (BSF) DIG S S Guleria said that even though 59,000 troops from the CAPFs and various state armed police forces requisitioned by the Union Government had arrived in the state, they were not adequately deployed in the state.
Guleria said that the SEC was very reluctant to share information on sensitive and very sensitive booths, thus hampering deployment of troops to all these booths.
Guleria also accused the SEC of not making proper logistical arrangements for movement and stay of CAPF and State Armed Police (SAP) personnel who came to Bengal.
The SEC refuted the allegations and said that all the 822 companies of central forces never reached the state on time.
8 July: Horrific violence and largescale rigging bring curtains down on Panchayat elections in Bengal. The overall death toll since the current polls were announced by the state election commission on 8 June stands at 37.
The maximum number of deaths have been reported from Cooch Behar and Murshidabad districts where the Trinamool is facing a very tough challenge from the BJP and the Congress respectively.
The other districts where the deaths in the last 24 hours have been reported from are North and South 24 Parganas, Malda, Nadia, Birbhum and East Bardhaman.
Reports of large-scale Intimidation of Opposition workers and supporters, vandalism of polling booths, destruction of ballot boxes and ballot papers, and blatant rigging of polls are being reported.
Watch posted by BJP’s Amit Malviya. The video shows Trinamool Congress cadres armed with pistols and bombs chasing away Opposition functionaries.
North 24 Parganas: Watch video embedded in of policemen recovering a ballot box from a drain in North 24 Parganas district.
Suvendu Adhikari on his twitter handle showing how Trinamool functionaries, in collusion with polls officials, are rigging the elections: Polling officials can be seen in the video facilitating the casting of false votes at polling booth No. 137 of Masat gram panchayat in Diamond Harbour Block 1 of South 24 Parganas district.
Dhamsa (Hooghly): Ballot boxes thrown into a pond after Trinamool musclemen attack BJP workers. Local people allege that central forces have not been deployed in the area.
Bhangor (South 24 Parganas): Two children were seriously injured in a bomb blast when they picked up a crude bomb that had been hurled allegedly by Trinamool Congress goons. The kids mistook the bomb to be a ball.
BJP workers stage angry demonstration in front of state election commission office in Kolkata, removed by police
Basanti (South 24 Parganas): Trinamool worker Anisur Ostagar died of injuries when bombs were hurled at each other by rival Trinamool factions earlier Saturday noon.
Patiram (South Dinajpur): Polling booth vandalised, ballot boxes taken away and damaged.
Dinhata (Cooch Behar): Angry locals set fire to ballot boxes after Trinamool workers commandeered a polling booth and cast a huge number of false votes.
Barasat (North 24 Parganas): Trinamool workers destroyed a polling booth and prevented locals from voting at the polling booth at Barasat's Jhikra FP School.
New Town (outskirts of Kolkata): Trinamool workers blocked all entrances leading to a polling booth behind a shopping mall in New Town to prevent voters from going there. Mass rigging has been reported from the polling booth.
Appeal to Calcutta High Court: An urgent petition has been filed in the court of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam praying for the cancellation of polls due to the ongoing violence, intimidation and rigging.
BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi: “Bengal used to be a centre of art, culture and science. Now, it is known for crimes, anti-national activities and dangerous appeasement. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led government has been using criminals for violence during the elections by giving them protection”.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari: “This is not an election, this is death. There is a fire of violence across the state. Central forces have not been deployed. CCTVs are not operating. This is not voting but loot”.
Adhikari scenes of violence and intimidation on his twitter handle.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar: “TMC’s hooliganism has crossed all limits. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee along with the chief electoral officer of the state are responsible for the violence. Bengal government and the state polling body are hoodwinking the court's order which directed deployment of central forces in all the districts”.
BJP Polling Agent Shot Dead Inside Polling Booth By Trinamool Goons: BJP polling agent Madhav Biswas was shot dead inside a polling booth in Foolimari in Cooch Behar distrcit soon after voting commenced Saturday (8 July) morning.
Shots were fired and bombs hurled at polling booth number 4/38 by Trinamool goons to intimidate and scare away Opposition candidates and supporters.
BJP’s national IT head Amit Malviya posted (viewer discretion advised) on his twitter handle of the BJP polling agent’s blood-soaked body lying in the polling booth.
Cooch Behar polling booth vandalised, ballot papers set of fire: A polling booth at Baravita Priamry School at Sitai in Cooch Behar was vandalised, allegedly by Trinamool cadres, and ballot papers set on fire by them after voting started.
Polling booth ransacked in Birbhum: A polling booth was vandalised, ballot papers were burnt and thrown in a pond at Mayureshwar Ghoshpara in Birbhum by Trinamool cadres. Polling personnel have fled the booth.
Governor: Elections Should Be Through Ballots, Not Bullets
Governor C V Ananda Bose, who has been visiting various trouble sports from Saturday morning, told reporters people have been complaining of violence, attacks, killings, intimidation and about presiding officers not taking their complaints about not being able to vote freely and fairly.
“This is the most sacred day for democracy.There should be a stop to violence,” he said.
Bombs hurled at Samserganj (Murshidabad): Trinamool cadres reportedly hurled bombs near a few polling booths at Laskarpur in Murshidabad’s Samserganj to scare away Opposition workers and supporters.
BJP booth agent beaten up at Mahisura in Nabadip. The agent has sustained grievous injuries
Independent Candidate's Supporter Beaten To Death: Mohammad Abdullah, supporter of an Independent candidate of Pirgacha panchayat of North 24 Parganas, was beaten to death by Trinamool cadres Friday (July 7) night. The candidate's office was also vandalised by the Trinamool cadres.
3 Trinamool Workers Shot Dead: Three Trinamool workers were shot dead at Rejinagar and Khargram in Murshidabad distric), and Toofanganj in Cooch Behar district Friday night. Trinamool leaders blamed Opposition parties for the deaths, but the Congress and CPI(M) alleged the deaths were due to inner-party rivalries within the Trinamool.
More violence Friday: A CPI(M) candidate, Anita Adhikari, was also injured. One Congress worker was beaten to death by Trinamool goons at Raninagar in Murshidabad district Friday (July 7) evening. Three BJP workers were also shot at and seriously injured at Gitaldaha in Cooch Behar's Dinhata Friday evening.
Abhishek Banerjee Mocks Governor, Asks Him To Go To Manipur
7 July: Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee mocked Governor C V Ananda Bose for the latter's scathing criticism of state election commissioner (SEC) Rajiva Sinha.
Addressing reporters soon after the Governor's press conference where he attacked Sinha, Banerjee said commenting on what the Governor should say or do would amount to committing "an act of blasphemy".
However, in the same breath, he said that he would request the Union Government to "take cognisance" of "the intellect" of the Governor and "immediately send him to Manipur".
"A man of such intellect, a man of such wisdom, a man with such understanding of democratic values and the Constitution is more needed now in Manipur, not in Bengal," said Banerjee.
Appointment Of Ex-CJ Of Karnataka HC As Interim VC Of State Univ By Guv Emerges As Another Flashpoint
7 July: The appointment of former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Subhro Kamal Mukherjee, as the interim Vice-Chancellor of the state-run Rabindra Bharati University (RBU), by Governor C V Ananda Bose has triggered another attack on Bose by the Trinamool Congress.
Mukherjee will take charge as the interim VC Friday (July 7). The Trinamool is angry because the Governor did not consult the state government while making this appointment.
Though education minister Bratya Basu did not speak, Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen said that the appointment of a non-academic to that post was "unprecedented" and accused Bose of "running a parallel administration at the BJP's behest".
Chief Justice Mukherjee had questioned the logic behind describing Tipu Sultan as a "freedom fighter" .
"What is the logic behind celebrating Tipu Jayanti? Tipu was not a freedom fighter but a monarch who fought the opponents to safeguard his interests,” Chief Justice Mukherjee had orally observed while hearing a petition against the state government's decision to honour Tipu Sultan in November 2016.
Campaigning For Panchayat Polls Ended Thursday With Three More Deaths
7 July: Campaigning for elections to the three-tier panchayat system in Bengal ended Thursday (July 6) with three more deaths reported from various parts of the state.
This puts the official body count in pre-poll violence this time to 19, but the BJP disputes the official figure and puts it at 22. The death toll in pre-poll violence in the 2018 panchayat elections was 23.
The body of a BJP worker, whose wife is an Independent candidate supported by the BJP, was found in a Birbhum village Thursday. A man allegedly linked to the Trinamool Congress died while making bombs in Murshidabad.
A Congress worker died in clashes with Trinamool activists at South 24 Parganas Thursday afternoon.
Apart from these three deaths, Opposition functionaries and supporters, including the BJP's Jalpaiguri district president, were injured in attacks on them by alleged Trinamool workers.
Cal HC Endorses Fear Of Post-Poll Violence, Asks Central Forces To Remain In State After Elections
6 July: The Calcutta High Court said Thursday (July 6) that apprehensions of post-poll violence in Bengal "cannot be brushed aside" and asked Central forces to remain in the state for ten days after declaration of panchayat poll results on 12 July.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Uday Kumar said: "Though it may not be right for a court to predict any violence during the ensuing elections, the applicant's apprehension cannot be brushed aside, given the past experience....There are chances of post-poll violence...let Central forces be deployed for ten more days after the declaration of results".
The division bench issued this directive on submissions by a petitioner who pointed that a lot of violence takes place after every elections in Bengal.
Governor Skewers State Poll Panel Chief Over Violence, Accuses Him Of Not Doing His Duty
6 July: Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose launched a scathing attack on state election commissioner Rajiva Sinha at a press conference Thursday (5 July).
Bose, who had traveled to various violence-hit parts of Bengal and met victims of poll violence, called the presser to share his report on the bloodshed.
"If democracy is dead during this panchayat election, who is the killer? Will the state election commissioner please raise his hand? You should know who are the killers. You are the custodian of the lives of the people during elections," Bose said referring to Sinha.
"I appointed you. You disappointed the people. My constitutional appointee, you have failed in your duty in my opinion. You have failed the people," said Bose. The governor added that looking at the murders in the field, Shakespeare would have said: "Hell is empty. All the devils are here".
Advising the state election commissioner (SEC) to visit the trouble spots, Bose said: "Mr SEC, Bengal wants you to do your duty. Have you done your duty? Do you know what is your duty? Will you do your duty?"
Minor Killed In Poll Violence, Death Toll Rises To 19
5 July: A 17-year-old boy was killed, and half a dozen others grievously injured in separate incidents of poll violence in Bengal since Tuesday (4 July) evening.
Imran Hasan, a class 11 students of a school at Deganga in North 24 Parganas district, died when bombs were hurled at a group of people belonging to one political party Tuesday evening.
Violent clashes and attacks on houses of workers belonging to different political parties were reported from various parts of the state since Tuesday evening.
The death toll in pre-poll violence now stands at 19, said BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. He held chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the state election commission (SEC) responsible for the deaths and violence.
Remaining Central Forces For Rural Polls Arriving Today
4 July: 485 companies of armed police--323 from the central armed police forces (CAPFs) and the rest from armed units of police forces of 20 states--will arrive in Bengal today (July 4) as per the orders of the Calcutta High Court.
The Court, which is hearing a clutch of petitions related to the panchayat polls in the state, was told about this Monday (3 July).
The High Court had asked the state election commission (SEC) to requisition central forces for the elections. But the Court took strong exception to the SEC's earlier requisition of only 22 companies of the forces--one for each district of the state.
The High Court ordered the SEC to requisition and deploy at least 822 companies of CAPFs. A total of 364 companies of CAPFs arrived last week.
Trinamool Complains To State Poll Panel Against Governor, Accuses Him Of 'Canvassing' For BJP
4 July: Trinamool Congress has lodged a complaint with the state election commission (SEC) against Governor C V Ananda Bose, accusing him of "canvassing for the BJP" which using state-provided facilities.
This, contended Trinamool vice-president Subrata Bakshi in a four-page letter to the SEC, violated the model code of conduct.
Bakshi said the Governor was issuing statements that undermine the SEC, passing orders to officials and ensuring central security to BJP functionaries.
The Trinamool leader accused the Governor of misusing state facilities to meet BJP workers and his actions "amounts to electioneering and campaigning".
Abhishek Banerjee Accuses Congress Of Being In League With BJP
3 July: Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee accused the Congress of having an understanding with the BJP in Bengal. That invited a sharp rebuttal from state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Addressing a public meeting at Sujapur in Malda, a traditional stronghold of the Congress, Banerjee said that while "Rahul Gandhi sits beside Didi (Mamata Banerjee) in Patna" to forge a joint front against the BJP, the "Congress in Bengal is joining hands with the BJP to weaken the Trinamool".
Chowdhury, who is also the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, reacted sharply. He said that the Trinamool, which was once an ally of the BJP, forayed into Goa, Meghalaya and Tripura to help the BJP and harm the Congress.
Governor's Directive To Police & SEC On Poll Violence Raise Trinamool Hackles
2 July: Governor C V Ananda Bose has asked the police and the state election commission (SEC) to take strong measures to prevent poll violence.
Bose, who is touring North Bengal now, visited and interacted with victims of poll violence belonging to all parties, including the Trinamool Congress.
But the Governor's actions drew loud criticism from Trinamool leaders who accused Bose of bias. Even Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee accused the Governor of "overstepping his constitutional limits".
But Bose, unfazed by all the criticism and barbs, has vowed to continue his visits to all areas affected by violence.
Trinamool Youth Chief Summoned By ED Again For Questioning On Cash-For-Jobs Scam
2 July: Trinamool Youth Congress president Saayoni Ghosh has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) once again Wednesday (5 July) for questioning in the cash-for-jobs scam in the state education department.
Ghosh, who is also an actor, was grilled for more than eleven hours by the ED last Friday (30 June). Her name had come up during the interrogation of some of the main accused in the scam.
Saayoni, who is not new to controversies, has been asked to submit all her bank accounts and details of her financial transactions over the last ten years.
ED suspects she is a beneficiary of the scam. Her upscale apartment in South Kolkata which she purchased for more than Rs one crore (most of the amount was paid in cash) has come under the ED's scanner.
Mamata Banerjee Injured In Chopper Mishap Due To Bad Weather
28 June: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sustained injuries in her left knee and hip after the chopper she was traveling on in North Bengal encountered bad weather and was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday (27 June) afternoon.
Doctors who attended on her at the state-run super-specialty SSKM Hospital said the CM sustained a ligament injuries on her left knee and left side of her hip.
Banerjee was in the midst of campaigning for the ensuing panchayat polls in North Bengal. She had boarded the chopper at Lataguri after addressing an election meeting there and was headed for Bagdogra airport when the chopper ran into rough weather.
The chopper made an emergency landing at a defence airstrip at Salugara, about 15 km from Bagdogra. Banerjee later traveled to Bagdogra by road and took a charter flight from there to Kolkata.
Mamata Banerjee Slams Congress-CPI(M) 'Unholy Alliance' With BJP In Bengal
27 June: Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee has slammed the Congress and the CPI(M) of forming an 'unholy alliance' with the BJP to take on her party in next month's panchayat polls.
Speaking at a public meeting in North Bengal's Cooch Behar where she kickstarted her campaign for the polls, she vowed to break the Congress-CPI(M)-BJP 'mahaghot' (unholy alliance).
She made it clear that while she is keen to participate in a 'mahajot' of major Opposition parties at the national level, the Trinamool Congress will remain the undisputed ruler in Bengal.
This is a clear indication that in Bengal, she will not accommodate the Congress and the CPI(M) which may ask for a substantial number of seats (under a seat-sharing deal) to contest from in the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Governor Asks Poll Panel To Consider Holding Panchayat Election In Phases
26 June: Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose has requested state election commissioner Rajiva Sinha to consider the possibility of holding the ensuing panchayat polls in phases.
The state poll panel had decided on a single phase poll on July 8. But, Bose pointed out, that would require deployment of a huge number of central forces. And such a huge number of forces may not be available.
Sinha told the Governor that under the rules, once the poll panel announces the election schedule, only the High Court or the Supreme Court can alter the date or order polls to be held in multiple phases.
The state poll panel has requested the Union Government to send 822 companies of central forces, and 364 companies arrived by Sunday (June 25). Sinha requested the Governor to ensure that the remaining 458 companies of central forces reach Bengal soon.
Calcutta HC Foils State Bid To Subvert Order On Deployment Of Central Forces
22 June: The Calcutta High Court has foiled a bid by the Bengal government and the State Election Commission (SEC) (read ) to subvert its earlier order on deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair conduct of panchayat polls in the state.
The High Court had, last week (June 13) ordered the SEC to requisition central forces for all the 22 districts of the state. The SEC and state government appealed against this order, but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals earlier this week.
But the SEC then said it would requisition only 22 companies (2200 personnel) of central armed police forces (CAPFs), one for each district. Such a small number of CAPFs would have defeated the purpose of the HC order.
A division bench of the Calcutta HC headed by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam Wednesday (June 21) said that only 22 companies are “thoroughly inadequate” and ordered the SEC to requisition at least 82,000 armed CAPF personnel for the polls.
20 June: The Supreme Court Tuesday (June 20) dismissed a special leave petition filed by the Bengal government and the State Election Commission (SEC) against an order of the Calcutta High Court ordering deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair conduct of the forthcoming panchayat polls in the state.
A vacation bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Manoj Misra observed that Bengal has a history of poll violence and that "holding polls can't be a licence for violence".
The apex court took into account the violence that has already happened during the filing of nominations last week. "If persons are not able to go and file their nomination or if those who have filed their nominations are ultimately finished off, or there are group clashes, where is free and fair elections? the SC bench asked.
The apex court's endorsement of the Calcutta High Court order is a setback for the Bengal government and the SEC which had vehemently argued against deployment of central forces in the state.
19 June: Another BJP workers was murdered, allegedly by Trinamool Congress goons, at Dinhata in North Bengal's Cooch Behar district Saturday (17 June) night.
Sambhu Das, whose sister-in-law is a BJP candidate in the forthcoming panchayat polls in Bengal, was called out of his home late Saturday night and brutally hacked to death.
Das was being pressured by the Trinamool Congress to get his sister-in-law to withdraw her candidature.
Das is the second BJP worker to be killed in Dinhata this month. On June 2, the general secretary of BJP's local unit at Dinhata, Prasanta Basunia, was shot dead inside his house by Trinamool Congress goons.
17 June: Trouble is piling up for the Trinamool Congress with the Calcutta High Court's Justice Bibek Chaudhuri ordering a CBI probe into a fresh land scam in Nadia.
Justice Chaudhuri asked CBI to probe deeds of land purchased by the Trinamool run Nadia Zilla Parishad for a water supply scheme at rates much higher than the market value of the land.
The HC judge observed that some "financial scam was committed by the Nadia Zilla Parishad sabhadipati and other officers". The sabhadipati, Ritka Kundu, is a senior Trinamool Congress leader and is known to be very close to the party's top leadership.
15 June: At least four Opposition workers and supporters have died over the past one week since the state election commission announced the schedule for panchayat polls in the state.
Opposition workers and supporters were fired at and attacked with crude bombs as well as other lethal weapons to stop them from filing their nominations.
The Calcutta High Court Thursday (June 15) evening ordered deployment of central forces in all districts of the state within 48 hours. Trinamool Congress cadres are also accused of threatening and intimidating Opposition functionaries and supporters.
Panchayat polls are scheduled to take place on July 8. The last date for filing nominations was Thursday (15 June).
14 June: Trinamool Congress general secretary did not go to the office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in the cash-for-jobs scam in the state school education department Tuesday (13 June).
The ED had issued summons to Abhishek immediately after questioning his wife Rujira in the illegal coal mining scam Thursday (8 June).
Abhishek sent his lawyer to the ED office with a letter stating that he is now busy with political engagements and preparations for the forthcoming panchayat elections in the state. He said he would be available only after the elections are over on 11 July.
The Trinamool leader, in his letter, said he was "unable to appreciate the scope and purport of the summon" issued to him. He also said that the information sought by the ED was "voluminous" and would take time to collate.
13 June: Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was prevented from entering the main temple of the Matuas--a community of Scheduled Caste Hindus (read )--at Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas Monday (12 June), sparking a war of words between his party and the BJP.
The gates of the temple, which has BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Shipping Santanu Thakur as its chief patron, were closed before Banerjee’s planned arrival. Banners put up to welcome him were brought down. Word was sent to him that he was not welcome at the temple.
But Banerjee pressed forward and a clash ensued between his supporters and Matuas who were determined to stop him. A few people were injured. Police have arrested a few people, all Matuas, who are said to be BJP activists.
The support of Matuas, who form a large chunk of voters in vast swathes of a few districts, is considered crucial.
9 June: Immediately after questioning his wife Rujira in the illegal coal mining scam Thursday (June 8), the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to Trinamool General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee asking him to appear before the agency Tuesday (13 June) for questioning in the school recruitment scam.
Rujira Banerjee, who was stopped from flying out to Dubai Monday (5 June), was interrogated by the ED for three and half hours Thursday. Soon after that grilling was over, the ED sent summons to Abhishek Banerjee.
Abhishek, who is currently touring the state on a public outreach programme, said he won't obey the summons. He said he was busy with the forthcoming panchayat polls and didn't have time to appear for questioning by central agencies.
7 June: The CBI, which has started investigating a cash-for-jobs scam in municipal bodies in Bengal, raided at least 20 places in the state Wednesday (7 June).
Apart from the offices of a few major municipal bodies neigbouring Kolkata, CBI sleuths also carried out searches at 'Nagarayan' which houses the state Urban Development & Municipal Affairs Department at Salt Lake. Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim, a close aide of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has his office in the building.
The CBI chanced upon this scam where eligible people were given jobs in many municipalities in return for huge sums of cash while probing a similar scam in the state school education department. The state government's appeals to the Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court to prevent the CBI and ED from probing the new scam in municipal bodies were rebuffed.
5 June: Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira was stopped from taking a flight to Dubai from Kolkata Monday (June 5) morning due to an active look-out notice against her.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had issued a summons to her to appear for questioning in the multi-crore illegal coal mining scam Wednesday (7 June). She was detained because she was flying out of the country despite the ED summons.
Rujira and her sister, as well as Abhishek Banerjee, had been questioned earlier by central agencies for their suspected involvement in the scam. The ED has found that proceeds of the scam were deposited in foreign bank accounts of some influential politicians and their family members through the hawala route.
3 June: A BJP mandal secretary from Dinhata in North Bengal's Cooch Behar district--Prasanta Roy Basunia--was murdered at his residence Friday afternoon, allegedly by Trinamool cadres.
Basunia, 26, was a close aide of Cooch Behar Lok Sabha MP and Union Minister of State for Home, Nisith Pramanik.
The alleged murder triggered protests across North Bengal. The BJP said that five mandal-level leaders of the party had been murdered in the past one month. Leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari demanded a CBI probe into the killings.
31 May: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the money trail in Bengal's school recruitment scam arrested Bijoy Krishna Bhadra, a close aide of Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, late Tuesday (May 30) evening for allegedly benefiting from the scam.
Bhadra, popularly knows as Kalighat er Kaku (the uncle from Kalighat, which is the area where Mamata Banerjee and her close relatives, including Abhishek, live) due to his proximity with the Banerjee family, is suspected to have received huge sums of money from the scam.
Bhadra was a director of Leaps & Bounds Pvt Ltd, a firm owned by Abhishek. The ED is probing the finances and transactions of this, and two other companies.
30 May: Bayron Biswas, who emerged victorious on a Congress ticket from the Sagardighi Assembly seat in a bypoll just three months ago, has now joined the Trinamool Congress.
Bayron Biswas' decision to switch parties marks a setback for the Congress, as it loses its sole MLA in the Assembly.
This switch becomes more important when it is considered that the loss of Sagardighi was said to reflect a decline in the TMC's influence over the Muslim community.
Moreover, Biswas' defection comes at a time when the Trinamool Congress has been grappling with consecutive setbacks due to corruption allegations and other charges, further challenging the party's standing.
What it does to efforts of forging Opposition unity between TMC and Congress remains to be seen.
26 May: The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the CBI to interrogate Trinamool Congress general secretary and Mamata Banerjee's nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, once again.
A vacation bench of the apex court Friday (May 26) refused to intervene in a May 18 order of the Calcutta High Court granting permission to the CBI and ED to question Abhishek in connection with the cash-for-jobs scam in the school education department.
This is yet another setback for Banerjee, who has been appealing to the judiciary for immunity against grilling by central probe agencies. Banerjee was grilled by the CBI last weekend for over nine hours.
21 May: The CBI grilled Trinamool Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee for over nine hours at its Nizam palace office in Kolkata Saturday (20 May).
Abhishek, who had been summoned for questioning on the cash-for-jobs scam in the school education department, reached the CBI office at little before 11 am, and the grilling started at 11.20 am.
His interrogators wanted to know his links with scam accused Kuntal Ghosh, who was a Trinamool youth leader. Banerjee was given a five-page questionnaire. He termed the grilling a "waste of time" after emerging from the CBI office around 9 pm.
20 May: Trinamool Congress national general secretary and chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee will appear before the CBI at 11 am today (May 20) for questioning in the cash-for-jobs scam in the school education department.
Abhishek, who appealed to the courts to stall the summons by the CBI, which is probing the scam, ran out of all legal options after a division bench of the Calcutta High Court headed by chief justice T S Sivagnanam declined to entertain his request.
The Calcutta High Court ordered the termination of services of 36,000 primary school teachers appointed in 2016.
Justice Abhijit Ganguly termed the appointments as "illegal" and asked the state government to fill up the posts with qualified teachers through a transparent, merit-based process within three months.
NIA probe into Ram Navami violence
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has started investigating the Ram Navami violence that rocked three districts of Bengal last month.
The NIA was asked on April 27 by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court headed by (then) acting Chief Justice T.S.Sivagnanam to probe the violence in Hooghly, Howrah and Uttar Dinajpur.
The NIA formally submitted six FIRs in the cases before the NIA special court in Kolkata.
The Calcutta High Court had expressed its reservations on the investigations into the violence by the Bengal police and had decried the "deliberate attempt" of the state police not to register offences under the Explosive Substances Act in order to keep the NIA out of the probe.
5 May: A Trinamool leader was arrested by the police for murder of BJP booth president Bijoy Krishna Bhunia hours after Calcutta High Court wanted to know from police what action it had taken in the case.
Milan Bhowmik,a member of a Trinamool-run gram panchayat in East Midnapore who is also known as a party strongman, was one of the 34 named by Bhunia's widow for the murder of her husband.
Protests against the murder continued in many parts of East Midnapore even as Bhunia's body was taken to the army's Eastern Command Hospital Thursday (May 4) for a second autopsy ordered by the Calcutta High Court.
The abduction and murder of a BJP booth president, Bijoy Krishna Bhunia, at Moyna in Purba Midnapore district Monday (May 1) has triggered widespread protests in Bengal.
Bhunia, 60, was allegedly beaten up in front of his wife and son and abducted. His body was later recovered by the police who failed to arrest anyone till Wednesday (May 3) morning.
The Calcutta High Court has admitted a petition moved by the slain leader's son seeking a CBI probe into the murder.
28 April: The BJP has called for a North Bengal bandh today (April 28) over the death of a 33-year-old man in police firing at North Dinajpur district's Kaliaganj Thursday (Apr 27).
The man was allegedly shot dead by police during a midnight raid to nab a BJP panchayat samity member suspected by police of having a hand in the torching of the Kaliaganj police station Tuesday (April 25).
An influential body of Rajbongshis, Scheduled Castes and tribals has extended support to the bandh. North Dinajpur has been on the boil since the death of a teenage girl at Kaliaganj on April 21. Police are accused of trying to hush up the case and pass it off as death due to poisoning, whereas locals suspect he was raped and murdered.
27 April: The Calcutta High Court Thursday (April 27) asked the NIA to take over an ongoing probe by Bengal Police into Ram Navami violence in parts of Bengal.
A division bench presided over by acting Chief Justice T.S.Sivagnanam issued this order while hearing a PIL filed by BJP's Suvendu Adhikari seeking an NIA probe.
Adhikari had alleged that explosives were used in the violence and police acted in a biased member by arresting only Hindus and not taking any action against Muslims who attacked Ram Navami processions, destroyed properties and went on a rampage.
27 April: Trinamool bahubali Anubrata Mandal's daughter Sukanya was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate after seven hours of questioning in Delhi Wednesday (Apr 26) evening.
Sukanya, who skipped ED summons earlier, is alleged to have laundered huge sums of money that were proceeds from the cattle smuggling scam in which her father is a prime accused.
26 April: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said 'outsiders' brought in by the BJP set the Kaliaganj police station in North Dinajpur on fire Tuesday evening.
Asking the police to carry out a thorough probe, Banerjee said that the possibility of attaching properties of those responsible for the violence will be explored.
25 April: An angry mob of tribals and Koch-Rajbongshis torched Kaliaganj police station in north Bengal's Uttar Dinajpur district Tuesday evening over the death of a teenage girl whose body was found in a canal last week.
Locals alleged that the girl was raped and murdered and accuse the police of trying to hush up the case. They dispute a post mortem examination report which attributed the death to poisoning.
19 April: Senior TMC leader Mukul Roy landed in Delhi late on 17 April evening.
In an interaction with the press in the city, he made the sensational claim that he is still with the BJP and wants to meet party president J.P.Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Roy, a senior leader of the TMC had switched over to the BJP in 2017 before going back to the TMC in 2021.
17 April: Trinamool's Burdwan MLA Jiban Krishna Saha was arrested Monday (April 17) morning for collecting money from aspirants for jobs in government-run schools.
Saha was arrested after more than 60 hours of intense grilling by CBI sleuths at his residence at Andi village in Murshidabad district.
Saha had thrown away two cellphones and a pen drive into a pond that was drained and one device was recovered.
The CBI had also recovered bags containing thousands of photocopies of admit cards and marksheets of Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) candidates from bushes ringing his residence.
10 April: On 10 April, the Calcutta High Court stated that the violence that occurred during the recent Ram Navami processions in Howrah and Dalkhola appeared to have been pre-planned, and that there was a failure of intelligence on the part of the state police.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya reserved its order on a plea filed by Leader of Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari seeking a transfer of the probe into the violence, to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
5 April: Observing that prevention is better than cure, a division bench of the High Court headed by Acting Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam directed the West Bengal government to requisition central forces to avoid any breach of peace when Hanuman Jayanti processions are carried out on Thursday (6 April).
This order from the HC comes after Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had made the following statement on 3 April: "I will entrust a responsibility to my Hindu brothers to see that minorities are not tortured on April 6 (Hanuman Jayanti)".
4 April: The Calcutta High Court has ordered the West Bengal government to submit a report on clashes in Rishra, Hooghly, following a mention by lawyers representing Suvendu Adhikari.
BJP's Adhikari is leader of opposition in Bengal.assembly.
The court has directed Adhikari to submit a supplementary affidavit. The matter will be heard on April 5 along with a PIL by Adhikari.
Rishra saw communal violence following similar incidents in other parts of the state on March 30 - when Hindus celebrate Ram Navami.
1 April: The Bengal Governor, C V Ananda Bose, condemned in strong words the violence that took place during Ram Navami processions in Howrah.
He warned that those who resort to violence for "Adharma" will face consequences and emphasized the importance of police being objective, strong, and fair in their handling of the situation.
The Governor established a special cell for real-time monitoring to ensure safety and protection. All this is probably causing a stir among the Trinamool Congress who had attempted to shift blame.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah Union dialled the West Bengal Governor to enquire about the security situation in Howrah after violence continued in the town for a second straight day.
Violence and stone-pelting continued in Howrah on Friday after a Ram Navmi yatra was attacked in the town on Thursday.
During the telephonic conversation with Bose, the union home minister sought to know the prevailing situation in the state, particularly in the violence-hit areas of Howrah.
The governor is believed to have provided the home minister details about Thursday's violence and the present situation.
A press statement from Raj Bhavan said Governor Bose asked the state government to “ensure fool proof arrangements to maintain law and order effectively” besides action to be taken “against miscreants.”
Raj Bhavan will keep its eyes and ears open to ensure protection to the life, property and dignity of the common man, Governor Bose said.
Arson after Friday prayers
A mob of people pelted stones on police personnel in Howrah on Friday afternoon.
At least three policemen were injured in the violence. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were imposed in the Kazipara area.
According to reports, tensions began following the Friday prayers of the Muslim community.
A team of Rapid Action Force (RAF) from Kolkata Police was brought into the area for controlling measures on Friday afternoon. The personnel started a route march following the stone-throwing incidents.
Mamata vs Suvendu
Earlier in the day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP along with other right-wing organisations was responsible for Thursday's violence in Howrah.
She had also claimed that violence erupted in Howrah only after organisers of the Ram Navmi yatra deviated from the approved route.
However, her claims were refuted by the organiser of the yatra and VHP leader Inderdev Dubey who said that no deviation from the approved route had taken place and that all necessary permissions from the authorities had been duly obtained.
On his part, the leader of Opposition in West Bengal assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Calcutta High Court pertaining to the attack on the Ram Navami processions at Howrah and Dalkhola.
He has pleaded for an NIA probe into the incident and immediate deployment of Central Forces in the affected areas. The PIL has been listed for hearing on Monday.
With inputs from PTI.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) that is probing the cash-for-jobs scam in Bengal's school education department has chanced upon another scam in appointments to junior posts in Trinamool-run municipalities of North 24 Parganas district adjoining Kolkata.
The ED said that it has unearthed a 'goldmine' and the extent of the cash-for-jobs in municipalities will be known as investigation progresses. Many Trinamool leaders and functionaries are allegedly involved in this scam.
17 March update: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating the cattle smuggling scam in Bengal, has now brought former Trinamool minister and sitting MLA Jakir Hossain under its scanner.
Hossain, who runs a big beedi manufacturing business, is said to have been named by some people questioned by the ED in connection with the scam. ED suspects him of laundering the proceeds of the scam.
The Income Tax Department had raided houses and offices of Hossain in January this year and seized a huge amount of cash from them.
The ED has also summoned Anubrata Mondal’s daughter Sukanya, Trinamool Congress leader Kripamoy Ghosh and businessmen Moloy Pit and Rajib Bhattacharya to Delhi for questioning in the cattle smuggling case.
Ghosh, Pit and Bhattacharya are very close to Anubrata Mondal and are suspected of having received huge sums of money from the cattle smuggling allegedly masterminded by Mondal.
16 March update: Senior Trinamool Congress leader and North Bengal Development Minister Udayan Guha has asked his party cadres to ensure that the Opposition parties do not find any candidate to field in the forthcoming panchayat polls.
This brings back memories of the 2018 panchayat polls where the Opposition parties could not field candidates in 34 per cent of the seats due to the alleged strong-arm tactics of the Trinamool.
Panchayat polls in Bengal are due in May and if the Trinamool loses in even a few districts, it will provide a momentum to the opposition, primarily the BJP, in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The Bengal Assembly passed a motion Monday (13 March) against “misuse of central agencies” by the union government to target party functionaries.
This is the second time that the ruling party has used its strength in the Bengal Assembly to pass such a resolution. Bengal was the first state to pass an Assembly resolution against alleged “misuse of central agencies” in targeting Trinamool leaders and functionaries in September last year.
Ironically, even as the Bengal Assembly was discussing the resolution, the ED was making shocking disclosures about the huge properties and assets owned by Trinamool leader Santanu Banerjee.
Banerjee, a Trinamool youth wing leader who was a junior employee of the state-run West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, was arrested by the ED late last week for his involvement in the bribes-for-jobs scam in the state education department.
Kuntal Ghosh, another Trinamool youth wing leader who was reportedly close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, was arrested by the ED in late January this year for his involvement in the same scam.
2 March: Sagardighi bypoll
In the bypoll to the Muslim-majority Sagardighi Assembly seat in Murshidabad district, the Congress-Left alliance defeated the Trinamool candidate.
Notably, Muslims form over 66 per cent of the population of this Assembly seat.
This loss however may not be worrying the Trinamool too much because Muslim voters in Murshidabad and Malda, where they are in a majority, have traditionally been Congress and Left supporters.
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