This Article is From Apr 09, 2013

After confronting violent protests, Mamata Banerjee cancels meeting with PM

New Delhi: Hours after shouting protesters surrounded Mamata Banerjee and attacked her minister, Amit Mitra, the West Bengal chief minister has cancelled her meeting with the Prime Minister. Her party says she is unwell with fever. This evening she was administered oxygen and advised bed rest. Mr Mitra has been hospitalised.

Ms Banerjee is in Delhi to seek financial assistance for her state, which owes nearly 2 lakh crores in loans to the centre. She wants the government to suspend the annual interest payments of 22,000 crores.

Accompanied by her finance minister, she was entering the Planning Commission in Delhi this evening when activists from the Students Federation of India (SFI) targeted the leaders. Mr Mitra, who is 62, said, "They were attacking me from every direction." His kurta was ripped.

"They had an iron rod, they tried to hit me," Ms Banerjee had said at a press conference. "They can kill me but they can't stop me. I am a product of the students' movement," she said.

The Delhi Police has registered a case against unknown people under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. (Read more)

The SFI is the youth wing of the CPI(M) which expressed its regret over this evening's violence. "I strongly condemn the incident, this is wrong politics" said former chief minister and Left leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj also condemned the attack saying "the CPM must apologise for this misconduct."

The activists were protesting the death of their colleague, Sudipto Gupta. He was arrested during a demonstration by the police and ended up in hospital hours later with severe head injuries. Ms Banerjee has denied that the police battered him, as alleged by other students, and has said his death was "a petty matter."

Ms Banerjee has accused the centre of "an economic blockade" of Bengal and wants financial aid.

In September, she quit the ruling coalition, reducing the Prime Minister's government to a minority. She said she did not agree with the economic reforms cleared by Dr Singh, who green-lit the arrival of foreign mega-stores like Wal-Mart and Tesco.