|Chit fund investors and agents block Hill Cart Road in front of Deb’s office in Siliguri on Wednesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo|
Siliguri, April 24: Trinamul minister Gautam Deb had to be escorted out of his office in the north Bengal development department today as angry depositors and agents of allegedly fraud money collection companies demonstrated outside.
The minister is generally accompanied by a gunman, but today, two police vehicles escorted him out of the office, crowded by the protesters.
Around 300 agents and depositors of Annex Infrastructure India Limited, a Siliguri-based company, gathered in front of his office around 2.30pm. They shouted slogans and disrupted traffic on the Hill Cart Road.
“The company closed down on March 26 and on the very next day, we filed a complaint against Prasenjit Majumdar, the CMD, at Bhaktinagar police station. But the police haven’t taken any action,” said Pradip Ghosh, a resident of Ranidanga near here.
Deb met three of the protesters and asked them to approach the Siliguri police commissioner.
When the Annex investors and agents were about to leave, another group of 100 people reached Deb’s office.
They said they were agents and investors of Suraha Micro Finance, a company based at Diamond Harbour of South 24-Parganas.
The new group also started a demonstration and wanted to meet the minister. But Deb wasn’t ready to hear them and walked down the staircase.
He went to the basement where his car was parked. Otherwise, the minister would get into the car in front of the building after attending the office.
Deb’s car moved out of the compound with a pilot car in front and a police vehicle behind. The convoy took the exit point at the right end of the compound, apparently to avoid the protesters who had crowded the path that directly leads to the building.
Seeing Deb leaving the office, the demonstrators became more angry. They yelled at him and hurled abuses at the convoy.
“We had no inkling that the minister was leaving. Otherwise, we would have waylaid him,” shouted one of them.
Traffic on the Hill Cart Road was blocked for three hours from 2.30pm because of the repeated protests.
Earlier, Deb told journalists in his office that not an inch of land belonging to the north Bengal development department, Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and the North Bengal State Transport Corporation had been handed over to any individual when he was in charge of the three government wings.
He was reacting to the allegation levelled by CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya on Monday that land owned by the north Bengal development department, SJDA and NBSTC headed by Deb had been sold to private parties at lower prices.