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Villagers bomb police out of arrest mission

Basanti (South 24-Parganas), Jan. 30: Villagers armed with guns and bombs attacked a police team led by the sub-divisional police officer of Canning when it went to arrest a CPM leader from Kumrokhali near here last night.

Asraf Ali was wanted in connection with the assault on an RSP panchayat chief last month.

Five policemen, including the officer in-charge of Basanti, suffered splinter injuries in the attack allegedly carried out by the CPM leader and his supporters. Sub-divisional police officer Subhankar Sinha Sarkar had a narrow escape.

The team returned empty handed but some arrests have already been made in connection with last night’s attack.

Last month, the panchayat chief of Charavidya, Saiyad Naia, was allegedly shot at by Ali.

Ali and some of his supporters were absconding since then. Following a tip-off last night that they had assembled at Kumrokhali, a police team led by Sarkar rushed to the village. But when the policemen arrived, a mob surrounded them, hurled bombs and fired from revolvers.

Sarkar said the “criminals” could not be located in the dark. “They fired at random. As the villagers were also part of the mob, my force could not open fire. It could lead to loss of innocent lives,” he said.

The officer was “confident” that Ali would be in the net soon.

District secretary of the RSP and MLA Subhas Naskar said they had pleaded with the police to arrest Ali since the attack on Saiyad. “We were surprised at the police inaction. Ali had been committing crimes regularly under the umbrella of the CPM,” Naskar said.

District secretary of the CPM, Shantimoy Bhattacharya, said Ali was “not a criminal”. “The RSP is saying all this with the panchayat election in mind.”

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