DM's Office Vandalised, Cong Leader Ready to Face Jail

A day after Congress workers vandalised the Murshidabad district magistrate's office in his presence, Union minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury today remained defiant saying he stood by what he did and was ready to go to jail, even as police filed FIRs against about 1200 people.

"I stand by what I did. I am ready to face any consequence. I am ready to go to jail," he said.

"It was expected that a case will be filed against me. Earlier also I had faced a number of charges. I tried to pacify the mob. Everybody witnessed the role played by me. It was appreciated by local officials."

He said West Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharjee, CLP leader and three MPs had gone to submit a memorandum to District Magistrate Rajiv Kumar, but were told that he was having lunch.

"How dare the DM refuse to meet the delegation? He challenged the authority of the Congress. If I were the chief minister, I would have suspended him," Chowdhury said.

Bhattacharjee told reporters in Kolkata that Kumar did not meet them and no Congress worker was involved in the vandalism.

Defending Chowdhury, he said the minister of state for Railways had controlled the mob. "The DM lacked etiquette. I sought a glass of water, but he refused to give it."

Murshidabad SP Humayun Kabir told reporters here that FIRs were registered against about 1200 Congress workers for the rampage in the DM's office.

"We have asked for video footage. We will try to identify the persons present there and take action," he said.

Asked if the central minister's name figured in the FIRs, he said, "In the interest of the investigation it will not be proper to disclose any name."

Congress workers had yesterday smashed flower pots, pulled down a sunshade and threw brickbats breaking the windscreen of a vehicle as Chowdhury was seen standing on the bonnet of a jeep, apparently trying to pacify the demonstrators who were holding a sit-in demonstration protesting against the death of a party worker.

The Trinamool Congress condemned the incident, saying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take action against the Union minister.

Senior Trinamool leader Sultan Ahmed said, "This is not a new thing for Adhir Chowdhury. He led the group yesterday. The PM should take action against him."

The Election Commission should take note of it and debar Chowdhury from entering the district where the Rejinagar by-election is slated for February 23, he said.

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