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After much to and fro, Bhangar administration on Saturday held a meeting with the district’s three winning panchayat poll candidates and five members of the Jomi, Jibika, Bastutontro O Poribesh Raksha Committee (JJBOPRC).
In its first meeting after a bloody panchayat election, the members and the district officials discussed various measures to improve the infrastructure in the area except the construction of a power substation — the point of contention between the group and the state government.
The meeting held in the district magistrate’s (DM’s) office, however, had its share of drama.
“We received a letter from the DM’s office inviting us for the meeting but we had said that we wouldn’t participate,” said Hassan Mirza JJBOPRC spokesperson, who also attended the meeting. “The letter, while it had the names of the invitees, did not have anyone’s designations — they did not acknowledge the panchayat winners while naming them, or the JJBOPRC. Till 11.30 last (Friday) night we were not willing to attend. It was only after repeated requests from the DM that we decided to go.”
The meeting was attended by panchayat poll winners Jahanara Bibi, Saleyara Bibi and Ishrafil Mollah. From the JJBOPRC, apart from Mirza, Ali Mohammad Mallik, Sajaharul Islam, Nizamuddin Mollah and Abdul Mollah attended the meeting. From the state administration, DM Y Ratnakar Rao, a special officer from Nabanna, SP Arijit Sinha, an additional SP and power officials also attended the meeting, Mirza said.
Mirza said that while the state administration called the meeting to discuss the power substation, the Committee refused.
“Amongst the panchayat members only one is a graduate, the others have studied till Class X,” he said. “This is a complex issue and we told the administration clearly that we will only attend the meeting if it is about local development and nothing to do with the power grid. We told them that the discussions have to be completely unconditional. We told them that since much of the matter is technical, we have our own expert committee that has looked into the matter but they were not invited. “We discussed new roads, water supply, rain water drainage and providing an impetus for fisheries in the area. The officers have accepted many of our concerns and have assured us that work will begin on all these areas as soon as possible. They have also told us that the matter will be discussed in Nabanna,” said Mirza. DM Rao and SP Sinha could not be reached for comment. Mirza also said that the they demanded the immediate release of CPI(ML) Red Star politburo member Alik Chakraborty who was arrested last month from a hospital in Bhubaneshar.
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