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Party office clash kills 4

Midnapore, Oct. 26: Four persons, including a woman, were killed after clashes broke out between activists of the CPM, the Jharkhand Party and the Congress in the Jamboni area of West Midnapore this morning.

The violence allegedly erupted over the possession of a party office.

The victims have been identified as Dibakar Malakar (47), a local CPM leader, Mohini Mohan Sarangi (76), a Congress activist, Sisir Satpathy (80), a Jharkhand party supporter, and one Shibani Sarangi (58).

Senior district police officials have rushed to the spot and the injured have been admitted to the Chilkigarh hospital here.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta that the party will organise a 12-hour bandh in Jamboni tomorrow to protest the murder.

The CPM’s Gidhni local party office was forcibly occupied by the Jharkhand Party in June 1996. Recently, the CPM had “recaptured” the office and had scheduled a re-opening rally there on October 31.

Today’s incident occurred around 9.35 am when Dibakar and two CPM activists were travelling to Gidhni on a motorcycle. When they reached Balijhuri, a van blocked their way and six persons got off the vehicle.

The assailants pumped bullets into Dibakar, killing him instantly. His two companions, Hena and Manik Satpathy, were left untouched by the killers.

Hena and Manik rushed to the local CPM office with the news of the killing. An angry CPM cadre later attacked the houses of local Congress and Jharkhand Party activists and ransacked them.

Congress leader Mohini Mohan’s house was attacked because it was alleged that one of his cousins was among those who had gunned down Dibakar. The attackers also looked for Prasun Sarangi, Mohini Mohan’s son and a Congress leader. Prasun was not at home when the activists raided the house.

Sisir, a Jharkhand Party supporter and Mohini Mohan’s neighbour, rushed to his rescue and was killed reportedly by the CPM supporters.

Eighty-year-old Sisir was killed when he tried to prevent them from setting the Sarangi house on fire. The activists killed another Jharkhand Party supporter, Shibani.

Basudeb Bhakat, CPM secretary of the Jamboni local committee, refused to admit that his party cadre had organised attacks on the Congress and Jharkhand Party activists.

“What happened here is the outcome of the fury of the local people over the killing of our party leader this morning,” he said when asked whether his party activists were involved in the murders.

Political observers say the incident could be the fallout of a political rivalry after the Jharkhand Party captured all gram panchayat seats in this block in the last elections. The CPM is now trying to regain these seats before the panchayat elections next year.

Political observers feel the CPM in Jamboni had become wary about their political rivals, the Congress and the Jharkhand Party (Naren Hansda group) after the last panchayat polls. The Jharkhand Party had captured all the gram panchayat seats in the Jamboni block. The CPM is now trying hard to regain the seats from the party in the ensuing panchayat elections next year.

The CPM became worried about their prospects in the ensuing panchayat elections in Jamboni area as the Congress and Jharkhand Party (Naren Hansda faction) had already made an electoral pact in the area.

Police said Dibakar was shot dead by some unknown assailants, which sparked off tension in the area. The three other persons were killed later, allegedly by CPM cadre in retaliation.

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