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West Bengal: Peace on Basu’s lips, cadre finger on trigger

Posted by Admin on November 3, 2009

Tahemina Bibi, whose house was looted in Khanakul. Ananda Das

Tahemina Bibi, whose house was looted in Khanakul. Ananda Das

KHANAKUL: Political violence has been the order of the day in Bengal in recent times, but the turf war hit a bloody low in Hooghly’s Khanakul on Monday when armed CPM goons unleashed a reign of terror on Trinamool Congress supporters and fired at police when they tried to intervene.

A constable was shot in the leg and another smashed on the head with a brick. Ten Trinamool supporters were injured, three of them with bullets, while a 25-year-old woman was molested. The gang set up checkposts’ at the six entry points Nandigram style and would not let the media in while the operation’ was on.

The CPM violence comes just two days before Mamata Banerjee’s scheduled public meeting in Hooghly’s Arambagh, 40 km away. A livid Trina-mool chief demanded the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s dismissal and threatened a Bengal bandh. Party activists blocked Durgapur Expressway in protest and lodged a police complaint against 30 CPM workers. No arrests have been made yet.

The attack will go against Bhatta-charjee, who heads the home department. He has been telling the Prime Minister and Union home minister that the root of all trouble in Bengal is the Maoists, with Trinamool backing the rebels. But he’ll find it hard to explain CPM men shooting at police and terrorizing political opponents.

Home secretary Ardhendu Sen doesn’t believe the continuing violence in Khanakul is taking a turn for the worse or that it has the signs of becoming another Nandigram. “I don’t think so. There are enough police in the area. Raids are on. I think the administration is impartial,” Sen said.

Residents of Khanakul had just woken up to a chilly morning when they heard bombs and bullets. CPM men, red flags in one hand and guns in the other, rushed from Patul Majhpara and stormed Ishanpur, Katapukur, Nangulpara and Polgram villages a little before 7 am.

Trinamool supporters were targeted. “Two persons kicked down the door, pointed guns at my face and said we would have to pay a heavy price if we supported Trinamool,” said Salima Begum of Ishanpara.

“I saw red flags flutter at a distance. When they came near I saw guns in their hands. There were at least 50-60 gunmen. They were some 500 metres away when the firing started. We were attacked from all sides,” said Katapukur Masjidtala resident Sheikh Azizul who was shot in the left hand. Two others Sk Sarafuddin and Sk Ranga also suffered bullet injuries.

Residents called in police, but it made no difference. The CPM goons turned their guns on policemen, injuring constable Chittaranjan Das (55). His colleague Durgapada Roy was bludgeoned. They were both admitted to Arambagh hospital. Das was later shifted to SSKM Hospital.

OCs of three police stations Khanakul, Goghat and Pursurah had to be sent with reinforcements. It was only when they started shooting that the mob retreated. “There was no option but to open fire. Probe is on to identify those involved in the attack,” said Hooghly SP Satyajit Bandyopadhyay.

“CPM leaders, like Anil Basu and Sushanta Ghosh, have been instigating their cadres. Many people have quit CPM and joined Trinamool. CPM leaders cannot accept it and are trying to terrorize villagers. There is also a conspiracy to prevent Mamata Banerjee from addressing Wednesday’s meeting,” said Sailen Sinha, a local Trinamool leader.

Basu hit back at Trinamool. “Trinamool goons have been terrorizing CPM supporters at Nangulpara, Marokhana and Ghoshpur villages. Some of our supporters had fled their homes. They were on their way back when Trinamool goons attacked them with firearms. Our supporters retaliated,” he said. TOI

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