Siliguri, Sept. 2: The chairman of the Siliguri Tea Auction Centre and a businessman were arrested today for allegedly leading a group of people who had attacked a bar with crooners at Sevoke Road yesterday. The STAC chairman, Gangadhar Agarwal, and the owner of a chain of sweet shops, Pradip Bansal, have been charged with theft, assault and mischief and remanded in 14 days’ jail custody. Traders shut down the auction centre and the wholesale grocery market in Khalpara, where Agarwal and Bansal reside, to protest the arrest. Around 40 people carrying Congress flags barged into Rave Up, a bar where singers perform live, and went on the rampage. In his complaint filed with Bhaktinagar police, the owner of the bar, Vijay Sharma, alleged that the attackers had heckled his staff and taken away cash from the counter. “All of them suddenly entered the bar and smashed the furniture. I have no clue why they attacked my bar as only live singing is allowed and there is no question of dance performance to which they were objecting. Two of my employees have suffered injuries as they tried to dissuade the attackers,” said Sharma. Recently, a forum known as Singing Bar Pratibad Mancha had emerged in town with the backing of the Congress. “Our key demand is to stop the practice of singing and dancing in bars. We have been organising a movement in a democratic manner for the past three months and have no connection with yesterday’s incident,” said Jayanta Saha, the joint convener of the Mancha. The office-bearers of the Mancha and bar owners held a meeting on Wednesday and it was decided that there would be no dance performance in any outlet selling liquor in Siliguri. “Regarding live singing, a seven-member committee comprising the representatives of the Mancha and bar owners’ association was formed to look into the issue and decide on timings, dress code of the singers and other issues,” said Saha. He said both Agarwal and Bansal were members of the Mancha and were wrongly implicated in the case. The duo were arrested from their homes. As the news spread, the tea auction came to a halt. “We did not participate in the auctions today to protest against the arrest of the STAC chairman,” said Bajrang Sethia, a senior member of the Siliguri Tea Traders’ Association. Around 100 million kilogram of tea is traded at the centre annually. The auction will resume at 9am tomorrow. Shops downed shutters in Khalpara as both Agarwal and Bansal were from there. “Both are our members and we protest the way they have been falsely named in the case,” said Kailash Agarwal, the secretary of the Siliguri Merchants’ Association. The arrested men were produced in the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Jalpaiguri. The judge, Debabarata Mukherjee, rejected the duo’s bail petitions and ordered 14 days’ jail custody for them. They would be produced in court again on September 16. The North Bengal Musical Bar Owners’ Association has denied the allegation that dance performances are held in their outlets. They said all musical bars would be closed for an indefinite period from today. “We condemn the way a bar here was ransacked without any provocation yesterday,” said Rohon Sarkar, the association’s secretary. “Unless the issue is resolved, we will not open our establishments.” Sources said Darjeeling district Congress president and Matigara-Naxalbari MLA Shankar Malakar would hold a meeting with the bar owners tomorrow. He is known to have backed the Mancha and protested against such bars. The Darjeeling district magistrate, M.K, Gandhi, said the district administration gave permission for only singing in bars. “We don’t allow live dance in bars. Permission is given for live singing with certain conditions.” Source: The Telegraph