Calcutta, April 8: Still a month to go before the May 11 panchayat elections, but blood has already started soaking the soil in rural Bengal.
Hooghly district was on the boil today after a CPM candidate, also an influential local party functionary, was killed inside the party office in an east Khanakul village this morning by hooded assailants, suspected to be Trinamul Congress supporters.
A candidate from Arunda village, Mathur Shee, 45, died a bloody death when Nepal Das of Gaurangachak village and his associates sliced him with hansuas (scythes) as he sat reading a newspaper in the CPM office.
Shee’s colleague Subrata Dolui, also a candidate, was critically injured when he tried to resist the attackers. After his condition began to deteriorate in the local health centre, Dolui was transferred to Howrah general hospital, where the attending doctors said he was “in grave danger”.
Deputy inspector-general of police (headquarters) Narayan Chandra Ghosh said a hunt was on for Das, who was last seen crossing a river and heading for neighbouring Howrah. “Apparently, they came and raided the CPM party office. Shee’s throat was slit and Dolui was hit on the head with sharp weapons. We are intensifying our search for Nepal, who holds the key to the incident.”
The CPM has called a 24-hour bandh in Khanakul in protest against the murder.
In a sharp reaction, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas charged Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress and the BJP with taking recourse to violence and threatened “active resistance” if killing of Left workers continued.
“I urge both (the) Trinamul Congress and (the) BJP to give up the politics of murder. They will have to bear the consequences if they do not pay heed,” Biswas said.
“We have information that Trinamul and BJP activists in the locality are behind the murder. There was no provocation from our local workers, still the party office was attacked and one of our functionaries was killed.”
Yesterday, Trinamul and BJP leaders had alleged in a joint statement that CPM supporters were not allowing their men to file nomination papers in Hooghly, Midnapore and Burdwan. Biswas today dismissed the allegation. “We want peaceful elections and will not be responsible if any party tries to create a law and order problem,” he warned.