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Trinamool Lawmakers Fly Out, After Night of Detention at Assam Airport

Guwahati: On Friday, in Assam, six leaders of the Trinamool Congress, part of a delegation to review the National Register of Citizens (NRC) returned to Kolkata from Silchar in the northeastern state’s Cachar district after spending Thursday night in detention at the airport, a senior official said. “Six of the eight members have left by the morning Air India flight,” said Cachar’s deputy commissioner S Lakshmanan, who stopped the delegation from getting out of the airport on Thursday showing them the prohibitory orders. There was chaos at the airport as the members of the Trinamool delegation entered into an altercation and a scuffle with the police and other district officials.

Trinamool leader alleged they were assaulted by the police, and Assam Police Chief Kuladhar Saikia accused the delegation of attacking his department’s personnel. The ruling party in West Bengal protested their detention, calling it “super emergency”. The Trinamool leaders had arrived in Silchar to take a stock of the situation after the NRC draft was published on Monday, which excluded 4,07,707 applicants. Arpita Ghosh and Mamata Bala Thakur, members of Parliament, have “decided to stay back for the time being” and are likely to take a flight to Delhi via Guwahati later in the day.

As per the senior Assam police official, they are trying to convince both the MPs to either take a flight to Kolkata or take the next flight to Delhi from Guwahati as soon as they land. The four-hour lag between the Silchar to Guwahati flight and the subsequent Guwahati to Delhi flight has made the police worried.

Officials of the district administration said they had given them an option to stay at the guest house at NIT in Silchar, which they refused. “It is a house arrest kind of a situation for us,” said Ghosh. After a day in Silchar, where the delegation was scheduled to meet people who have been excluded from the NRC, they were supposed to go to Guwahati.

“They have told us that we cannot go to either Silchar and Guwahati and meet people,” said Ghosh. “We objected to certain things that the district officials were doing. They stopped us without any order. Section 144 was not in place inside the airport. Is this a democracy or a fascist state?” she asked. “We are examining the complaint and decide if it merits a FIR,” said Roushan. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra was accused of assaulting and injuring a police constable.

A video tweeted by news agency ANI showed Moitra pushing constable Rubi Rani Das and shouting as the policewoman pleads with her with folded hands. A photo showed Das with bandages later. Ghosh, however, claimed that the charges of assault are baseless. She said, “It is an eyewash. They made the women officials get these bandages on the orders of the senior officials”.