June 17, 2009

CPM is target as violence rages in Bengal; Maoists, TMC on the loose

Express news service

Posted online: Tuesday , Jun 16, 2009 at 1138 hrs

Kolkata : The post-poll violence in West Bengal continues unabated with CPM’s Burdwan district committee member shot dead this morning by alleged Trinamool activists and its party offices and police camps set ablaze in Lalgarh by suspected Maoists.

Prohibitory orders in Lalgarh proved ineffective as thousands of tribals and members of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), heavily armed with traditional weapons, went on the rampage setting fire to police camps and CPM party offices at several places with a hapless administration watching.

As the PCPA procession meandered through the villages, at least three police camps vacated — fearing attacks by Maoists — were set on fire at Salboni, Ramgarh and Dharampur. The mob also torched the CPM office in Dharampur and attacked the house of Anuj Pandey, a powerful CPM zonal committee member of Binpur under the Jhargram constituency. The mob ransacked Pandey’s house who fled the area.

“The administration is sitting mum and we have been asked to leave the area by our party,” said Pandey. “Villagers are running away as there’s no security. Our men are butchered every day. Seven members of our party are missing. We are suspecting they have been killed as well.”

Several hundred tribal families, owing allegiance to the CPM, have also fled over the past two days taking shelter in Jhargram.

District Magistrate N S Nigam admitted there was an exodus from the affected areas of Lalgarh-Dharampur. A team of six CPM MLAs from Jhargram today met Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty demanding security for party workers. Central police forces were withdrawn from five camps — Jherua near Midnapore, Kaima in Salboni, Belatikri and Dharmpur near Lalgarh and Ramgarh — early today fearing attacks by Maoists. Manoj Verma, SP, West Midnapore, admitted that otherwise, Maoists would have attacked these camps and looted arms and ammunition. “We imposed Section 144 but the administration was not in a position to implement the orders. We do not have orders to fire,” said Nigam.

If the Maoists are on the loose in Lalgarh, in the CPM bastion of Burdwan, it was supporters of the Trinamool Congress. At 9.30 am, CPM district committee member and an office-bearer of the Zilla Parishad, Phalguni Mukherjee, was stopped by three men who forced him to get off his bike and remove his helmet, police said. They then fired at Mukherjee point blank.

Sources said Mukherjee, shortly before his death, mentioned the names of two people known to be close to the CPM but party sources said these two had quit the CPM long ago to join the Trinamool. Said CPM Burdwan district secretary Amal Haldar: “The opposition TMC is trying to create anarchy and lawlessness in the state.” Local CPM cadres set fire to three houses and the party has called a 12-hour bandh in Burdwan tomorrow.

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said the murder was an outcome of CPM infighting and the TMC had “no connection with the incident.”

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