West Bengal Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan was hospitalised on Wednesday after he was reportedly injured while being evicted from the House, following a scuffle between Congress MLAs and Assembly security staff. Burdwan Congress MP Pratima Rajak also claimed she was inappropriately handled by security staffers during the incident, which ironically followed a debate on the property damage Bill.
Speaker Biman Banerjee had ordered the marshalls to evict Mannan after he protested against the government’s Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Bill with placards while refusing to obey orders to wait for discussions on the legislation to begin. Mannan called the bill a “black law”.
“The security [officials] pulled me by my saree and tried to kick me,” Rajak said.
The Bill was passed in the House after Congress and Left MLAs staged a walkout. “Why are they opposed to this Bill? Because they (Opposition) don’t believe in peaceful movements. They believe in destroying public and government property. We will not let this happen,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
While the state administration is inclined to pass the law, which will ensure that vandals pay for any damage caused to both public and private property during protests, Opposition members alleged that it was a measure against the public’s right to dissent. “The law aims at curbing protests by threatening commoners with unprecedented consequences,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA and former Left Front minister Ashok Bhattacharya told Hindustan Times.
Banerjee had announced plans to introduce the legislation after several police vehicles and a police station were set ablaze during an agitation in Bhangar on January 17.