MAYNAGURI: Members of the Narayani Sena, an organisation raised by a group that demands a separate state carving out West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, on Thursday engaged in a scuffle with the police in Jalpaiguri district ahead of a BJP programme to be attended by Union minister Nisith Pramanik.

At least 250 members of the Narayani Sena were arrested in Maynaguri on various charges including attacking police personnel and violating Covid-19 norms, Jalpaiguri SP Debarshi Dutta said.

The BJP condemned the police action claiming that no step is taken against the ruling TMC during its political programmes.

The Narayani Sena members assembled at a guest house from where they were supposed to visit the Jalpesh Mandir, a famous temple in the North Bengal town, along with Pramanik after his arrival.

A police team had gone to the guest house to enquire whether or not they had the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination certificates or RTPCR test reports, the SP told PTI when contacted.

“The Narayani Sena attacked the police team, ransacked and damaged a couple of police vehicles and put up blockades at a national highway. We have arrested 250 of them under the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code for destroying government properties and attacking policemen,” he said.

Four policemen were injured in the attack, Dutta said.

Pramanik, the MP of Cooch Behar who was supposed to deliver a speech at the BJP’s ‘Shahid Samman Yatra’ programme, was trapped in the melee and was rescued by his personnel security guards.

The Union minister of state for home later visited the temple where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the name of Lord Jalpesh.

“This temple is a place of pilgrimage for all people of north Bengal. We, the people of the Rajbangshi community, are worshippers of Lord Shiva. I prayed for the welfare of all people of north Bengal. I also prayed for peace and tranquillity of the region,” Pramanik told reporters.

Meanwhile, the BJP criticised the police for its action against the Narayani Sena members.

“We condemn the police action. This has become the norm in Bengal. Whenever the BJP plans any programme, the police try to stop it citing Covid norms. But the rule doesn’t apply when the TMC takes out political rallies,” state BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.

The Narayani Sena is an organisation raised a few years ago by the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association to press its demand for a separate Greater Cooch Behar state on “ethnic grounds”.

The Narayani Sena was also the name of the army of the erstwhile Maharaja of Cooch Behar.