WB: Railway hawkers set fire to BJP office, burn Babul Supriyo's effigy

Kolkata, May 27: Irate hawkers set fire to a BJP office by flinging a burning effigy of union minister Babul Supriyo on Wednesday in protest against railway authorities barring them from peddling their trade at the Asansol railway station.

According to police, a fire tender was immediately rushed and the fire at the office in Burdwan district - a makeshift structure - put out within a short time. The situation was now under control with a police picket posted.

Railway hawkers set fire to BJP office

No one was injured as the office was vacant during the incident.

A mob of around 100 hawkers, who were prevented from plying their trade at the station for some time, took out a rally shouting angry slogans against Supriyo, the local MP, and lit up his effigy. Soon the demonstrators flung the effigy at the party office which caught fire. [Babul Supriyo's 'jhaalmuri diplomacy' with Mamata backfires; Bengal BJP furious]

A representative of the hawkers alleged they had met the union minister of state for urban development a few days back complaining about the railway authorities not allowing them to do business in the station premises.

However, the hawkers alleged that the MP did not listen to their grievances and refused to give any assurance to protest their livelihood.

One of the hawkers said they were associated with the BJP but the party as also the MP ditched them in their hour of need.

Supriyo, however, accused the state's ruling Trinamool Congress of fomenting trouble.

"No BJP activist will set fire to the party office. The Trinamool is behind this disturbance," he said.

The incident occurred two days after an RPF constable was killed as an anti-hawker drive triggered violence in Malda town.

Two policemen also sustained injuries as hundreds of hawkers fought pitched battles with police during a drive to evict them from railway premises on Monday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday virtually backed the hawkers and dubbed the Malda incident a result of the Centre's interference in the state's matter.

She asserted that the central government should have given the state prior information about the anti-hawkers drive.

She said the hawkers live in miserable economic condition and their eviction should not be executed in an unplanned way.

The Banerjee government had earlier announced legalising hawking in the state and issuing trade licenses to hawkers.

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