SILCHAR, Aug 2 - A delegation of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders was today detained at the Silchar airport by the police fearing disruption of law and order in the Barak Valley, especially in the aftermath of controversial remarks made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the complete draft of which was released on July 30 last.
The delegation, which included Trinamool leaders Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Ratna Dey Nag, Nadimul Haque, Arpita Ghosh and Mamata Thakur, arrived at the airport at 1.40 pm from New Delhi to reach Silchar city for a meeting with some people allegedly left out of the NRC draft. But, on their arrival, they were requested by officials of the Cachar district administration and the Assam Police not to step out of the airport owing to the imposition of Section 144 CrPC across the district since last night. Later, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim (Boby) and MLA Mahua Moitra also flew in from Kolkata and they too were stopped at the airport.
The district administration and police officials, who were at the airport with a large contingent of security personnel, included Commissioner of Barak Valley and Hills Anwar Uddin Choudhury, Deputy Commissioner Dr S Laxmanan, ADGP (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal, and Cachar SP Rakesh Roushan.
�We were ill-treated right after our arrival at the airport. This is a brutal blow to democracy,� members of the TMC delegation alleged.
A senior police official, however, informed that the delegation had been requested not to reach Silchar fearing that the situation might deteriorate in the district owing to the sensitive nature of the issue.
ADGP Mukesh Agarwal also clarified that the TMC delegation was taken under preventive detention fearing possible disruption of law and order in the Barak Valley.
�Since prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPc were already imposed in the district after the publication of the complete draft of NRC, we have taken the delegation of the TMC MPs and MLAs under preventive detention to avoid any possible chaos,� the ADGP said.
Dismissing allegations raised by the women MPs and MLAs of Trinamool Congress about physical assault, he said, �We know the constitutional importance of parliamentarians and legislators and we behaved in the most benign manner and made all arrangements for their comfortble stay within the rules. Steps are being taken to send them back to their respective locations in consultation with the delegation.�
However, TMC supporters including State general secretary Antoss Choudhury, who were waiting outside the airport to receive the delegation, expressed disgust at the �ill-treatment� meted out to their leaders.
�Our leaders were here to speak to the people of Barak Valley regarding the problems (over the NRC draft) and not to create any political chaos. But, what happened today was certainly a blow to the democratic right to free speech,� said Choudhury.
The Trinamool Congress leaders, who were siting at the conveyor belt inside the airport as a mark of protest, however, could not be sent back to Kolkata and New Delhi till the time of filing of this report.
Party insiders said they were taken to the NIT Guest House under tight security for a night�s halt and steps are being taken to send them back to their respective destinations tomorrow morning.