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Front partners battle in Basanti

Calcutta, Jan 1: Belying efforts to improve relations among Left Front partners, over 500 armed CPM and RSP supporters today fought a pitched battle at Basanti in South 24-Parganas. One person died and at last eight others were injured.

Deputy inspector-general of police, headquarters, Narayan Ghosh said at Writers’ Buildings this afternoon that 18 persons from both parties were arrested during day-long raids. The victim, identified as Enayat Sheikh, 26, was a CPM supporter.

The incident comes barely a month after leaders of the two parties met to broker peace following an embarrassing series of clashes in Basanti. The CPM has already locked horns with another Front constituent, the Forward Bloc, which has charged the Marxists with admitting “landlords” into the party fold.

According to Front sources, armed RSP supporters attacked CPM activists at Baratirmore in Basanti at 8 am to retaliate against a raid in their village last night. “The attack was an outburst against the torture meted out to our supporters for not participating in a CPM rally yesterday,” said Subhas Naskar, secretary of the RSP’s Basanti unit.

Countering Naskar’s allegation, Sanjoy Putatunda, a secretariat member of the CPM’s South 24-Parganas district committee, alleged that the RSP men had made an “unprovoked attack” on the CPM supporters in a bid to “politically isolate us” before the panchayat elections, slated for May.

“There was no attack on RSP men last night. In fact, RSP men have been systematically attacking us for over the past few months,” he said, warning that that Front partners should behave “responsibly” to protect unity in the coalition at the grassroots level.

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