March 30: Spurning an olive branch held out by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, suspected Kamtapur Liberation Organisation militants raided the ration shop of a CPM leader in Falakata today, shooting and wounding his son they failed to abduct.
Eighteen-year-old Palash Mondal, son of Subal Mondal, the ration shop owner and a CPM leader, was admitted to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital with bullet injuries in his hand and shoulder. Doctors declared his condition stable after they operated on him to remove a bullet embedded in his shoulder.
Senior police officers, including deputy inspector-general K.L. Meena, raced to Sishagar, about 8 km from Falakata, a block headquarters. A hunt has been launched. Forest minister Jogesh Barman, the CPM MLA from Falakata, also rushed there.
This is the second time the KLO has targeted a CPM leader since its August attack on the party’s Dhupguri office. The kidnap attempt came barely two weeks after the chief minister repeated, on a visit to north Bengal, his appeals to the militants to “give up arms”.
Armed with assault rifles, two militants on a motorcycle stormed the ration shop at Sishagar around 1.30 in the afternoon. The CPM leader had already gone home for lunch.
Brandishing their AK-47 rifles, the men seized Palash, who was alone in the shop with an employee. They told him to get on the motorcycle parked outside.
“I realised they were trying to kidnap me and broke myself free,” Palash said from his hospital bed. As he ran for his life, the assailants fired. The first few bullets missed him. But as he raced into the open door of a house nearby, one bullet grazed his hand, while another struck him in the shoulder.
Drawn by the sounds of gunfire, residents ran out. The assailants sped away. The young man was taken to Jalpaiguri, where he was hospitalised.
Members of the Jharkhand Party (Naren) have called an indefinite bandh in Jhargram sub-division in protest against Friday’s arrest of party leader Rabindranath Bose. Party chairperson Chunibala Hansda submitted a memorandum to superintendent of police K.C. Meena, demanding Bose’s release within 24 hours. “The bandh has been called for an indefinite period after the deadline expires,” said a leader.
Meena said Bose has been arrested in connection with a murder.