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Mahalis, who Offered Food to Shah, Join TMC After Disappearing For A Night

In a dramatic turn of events less than a week after Shah’s visit, members of Mahali family, who greeted Shah with lunch, first went missing on Tuesday night and then resurfaced on Wednesday morning along with Trinamool Congress leader Gautam Deb.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:May 3, 2017, 3:52 PM IST
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Kolkata: The highlight of BJP President Amit Shah’s recent visit to West Bengal was his lunch at a Mahali, the tribe which speaks Mahali language, house in Naxalbari. The images of Shah sitting on the floor of Raju Mahali’s house at South Katiajote village and having rice, dal, ‘potol bhaja’ (fried gourd dish), squash curry, salad and papad served on a banana leaf went viral.

In a dramatic turn of events less than a week after Shah’s visit, members of Mahali family, who greeted Shah with lunch, first went missing on Tuesday night and then resurfaced on Wednesday morning along with Trinamool Congress leader Gautam Deb.

Speaking to reporters, Deb said, “Mahalis have willingly joined TMC today. There was no pressure on them. They have decided to join TMC after being convinced with Mamata Banerjee’s immense developmental work in the state.”

“They will soon be given responsibility to work for TMC,” he added.

Standing beside Deb, Raju Mahali, with tears in his eyes, said, “I am happy to join TMC today. We will work to strengthen the party in Naxalbari.” His wife Geeta was also seen crying.

The BJP leaders have accused the TMC leaders of threatening the Mahali family and forcing it to join the party.

“On Tuesday night we got information that Raju, a painter, and his wife Geeta, farm labour, and others went missing from their house. We immediately rushed to the Naxalbari police station and alerted the officer,” BJP leader Dilip Barui told News18.

Barui said Mahalis were under pressure from the local Trinamool Congress unit ever since Amit Shah and state BJP President Dilip Ghosh had lunch at their house on April 25.

When asked, Tapan Pal, officer in-charge of Naxalbari Police station said, “On Tuesday night, BJP workers led by Dilip Barui came to us and complained that Mahalis were missing from their house in South Katiajote village. We are looking in to the matter.”

BJP’s Siliguri district president Praveen Agarwal said Deb had abducted Mahalis. “Mahalis were kidnapped by Gautam Deb’s men. Mahalis are under pressure to join the TMC. BJP workers are there in Naxalbari police station and we are demanding immediate action against those who are involved in the incident,” said Agarwal.

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| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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