TNN Jan 7, 2013, 02.07AM IST
BHANGAR (SOUTH 24-PARGANAS): Political violence touched a new nadir on Sunday afternoon when former CPM minister and present Bhangar MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah was allegedly assaulted by a mob led by ex-Trinamool Congress MLA Arabul Islam at Katatala in the Kolkata Leather Complex police station area.
As Mollah's jeep reached the spot at 12.20 pm, a large group of Trinamool men broke away from a meeting and rushed towards the vehicle with bamboo sticks. While the jeep's windscreen was smashed, Mollah was allegedly punched by Arabul. As he collapsed to the ground, the mob kicked and hit him on the stomach and chest for about seven minutes, even as his lone security guard and driver watched helplessly. A severely injured and bleeding Mollah "he has a deep gash under his eye and a cut on his lips apart from a hip injury” was rescued by two policemen. He was put into the damaged vehicle and taken to the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences.
A hospital official said some teeth on Rezzak's lower jaw have been broken and he was bleeding from his lower lip where two stitches were given. His ECG has been done and further X-rays will be carried out on Monday.
Municipal and urban development minister Firhad Hakim rubbished the charge, saying that Mollah was only pushed by some people. He denied that Trinamool supporters had attacked Mollah and his men.
The assault, coming in the wake of a series of CPM-Trinamool clashes across the state, was played down by the Trinamool leadership. The party claimed it was a drama staged by CPM to defame the state government. CPM has planned a sit-in at Alipur demanding the arrest of the culprits within 48 hours.
Mollah had gone to Katatala to inspect a party office, which was burnt down on Saturday night. CPM alleged it was done by Trinamool-backed miscreants. "I was told by the women of Katatala that Arabul and his associates have been looting and torturing them. So I assured them that I would visit them. That is why I had gone there," Mollah said in hospital.
Mollah's driver Amar Ghosh, who also suffered minor injuries, said the assault was pre-planned. "As we were close to the party office around 12.20 pm, we found a small gathering. They suddenly started running towards us. They were carrying bamboo sticks. They first smashed the glass windscreen. Rezzak Mollah opened the door and got down but before he could say anything, a blow landed on his face, leaving him bleeding," he said.
Ghosh said after Mollah fell down, they kept kicking him. His security guard made a futile attempt to save him, but was vastly outnumbered by Arabul's supporters.
In the evening, Ghosh lodged a complaint against eight persons, including Arabul Islam, Pradip and Kalu at the Kolkata Leather Complex police station. Trinamool has also planned to lodge a counter-complaint against Mollah.
At a hurriedly convened press conference at Trinamool Bhavan, Hakim said it was a drama staged by Mollah, who had gone to the spot ignoring a request from the administration to the contrary. "We had a street-corner meeting and Arabul was delivering his speech. Suddenly Rezzak Mollah reached the spot and hurled filthy abuses. It led to tension and a scuffle broke out. If there was an attack by 3,000-4,000 people we had there, Mollah might not have reached the hospital ever," Hakim said.
Hakim also alleged that the CPM party office was burnt down by its own members to malign the administration. Sauqat Mollah, once a close aide of Mollah and now a Trinamool leader in Bhangar, said: "Only on January 1, our party (Trinamool) office was ransacked and burnt down. Since then, there was tension in Katatala. Mollah went there just to add fuel to fire."
A senior police officer admitted that Mollah had informed the administration about his visit to Katatala. He also confirmed that police personnel had rescued Mollah from the irate mob.
CPM leader Kanti Ganguly said the attack was pre-planned. Before the assault, Arabul and his henchmen had asked shops to down their shutters, he said. "This is part of a game plan before the panachayet elections to unleash fear among the electorate," Ganguly said.
Amid the demand for the arrest of Arabul by senior Left Front leaders like Biman Bose, Surjya Kanta Mishra, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee and Subhas Naskar, Hakim said: "If Arabul Islam is arrested, then Rezzak Mollah would also be arrested for an even worse offence."
Rebel Trinamool MP Kabir Suman said he was feeling ashamed about the assault. "What is happening? I am feeling ashamed and I apologize to Rezzak Mollah. If the allegations that have been raised against him are true, Arabul Islam is out of his mind. What's wrong with him? Can't he understand what a wrong message he is sending to the grassroots Trinamool men?"