"Was Being Pressured To Join...": Mamata Banerjee On Attack On Minister

Minister Jakir Hossain suffered injuries yesterday after unidentified persons hurled crude bombs at him at Nimtita Railway station in Murshidabad.

Investigations were underway at the railway station with West Bengal CID taking over the case.

Kolkata:

The bomb attack on West Bengal Labour Minister Jakir Hossain was part of a conspiracy because "some people were pressuring" him to join their party, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said today, comparing it to the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in the 1990s. She also held Indian Railways responsible for the incident since it took place on the transporters' premises.

Minister Hossain suffered injuries yesterday after unidentified persons hurled crude bombs at him while he was walking towards Nimtita Railway station in Murshidabad to board the train for Kolkata. He received injuries in one hand and a leg but his condition was said to be stable and out of danger, according to a doctor.

"Jakir Hossain is a big businessman...runs a huge beeri factory. It was a planned attack going by eyewitness accounts," Ms Banerjee said. "It was a fearful blast. I am shocked. It's like the Beant Singh blast."

"Some people (party) were pressuring Jakir Hossian to join them for the last few months. I don''t want to disclose anything more as investigation is on," Banerjee told reporters. She also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for those seriously injured in the explosion and Rs one lakh for people who received minor injuries, according to PTI.

She raised doubts over security lapses at the time of the attack and said her government will not allow the suppression of the case. Speaking at another event later in the day, she asked, "Why was there no light at the railway station? Why was there no official present even after the incident?"

She also said the BJP was weaving a conspiracy and that it was greedy about South 24 Parganas. 

Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister visited Mr Hossain who was still under ventilation at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata.

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Investigations were, meanwhile, underway at the Nimtita railway station with West Bengal CID taking over the case.

"Around 26 of our people, including Jakir Hossain, were injured. Fourteen of them serious. Police investigation is on. The CM has said that CID, STF, and CIF have joined in. I hope Railways will help them. On behalf of the party, we want that culprits be arrested and brought to court," said West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.

The attack comes during the run up to the state assembly polls scheduled for March-April, with the BJP keenly looking to replace Ms Banerjee's Trinamool government.

Visiting the injured at the hospital, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury today said since the Chief Minister is saying that it was a planned, remote-controlled blast, she should call in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the probe.

"The incident shows that West Bengal is not safe even for ministers. The government has failed to control the law and order," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari's rally was attacked by unknown persons in Beleghata area of north Kolkata on Wednesday night, leaving some people injured, PTI reported.