Jalpaiguri, April 18: A mob armed with daggers and staves attacked Trinamul Congress leaders travelling in a car at Banarhat last evening in the first instance of pre-poll violence in the north.
Trinamul charged the CPM with the assault, which came hours after Mamata Banerjee’s party accused its main rival of abducting five candidates at Nagarcata in Jalpaiguri.
The injured leaders include Trinamul’s Alipurduar president Seema Chowdhury, Swapan Burman and Prakash Chakroborty, both state secretaries from Jalpaiguri. They were dragged out of the car and beaten up at Banarhat’s Kalabari More. All of them were admitted to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital, where Chakroborty received 11 stitches for cuts on his head. Seema had a fractured arm, said doctors.
The leaders were returning to Jalpaiguri from Hridaypur after attending a meeting to protest the “pressure” allegedly put by the CPM on a Trinamul candidate to withdraw her nomination for the May 11 panchyat poll.
Trimaul district secretary Mridul Goswami lodged a complaint with the Banarhat police station last night, blaming the CPM for the attack. “It’s a pre-planned attack aimed at terrorising our cadre,” he said.
District superintendent of police Siddh Nath Gupta said they arrested one man each from the CPM and Trinamul in connection with the attack. Two more were detained for interrogation. Gupta refused to give details of the attack, saying an investigation was on.
Trinamul workers set up a roadblock at Paharpur More for nearly four hours, demanding immediate arrest of the CPM workers.CPM district secretary Manik Sanyal denied his party workers were involved in the attack. “Two of our leaders named in the FIR are innocent. They could not have been involved as one of them is physically challenged and the other a diabetic.”
Burman said more than 50 CPM supporters had blocked the road with cycles and bamboo poles, forcing their car to stop.
“They first asked Seema to come out of the car. When we protested, they started hitting us with staves. They also brandished kukris (daggers),” Burman said from his hospital bed. Chakroborty — his face streaked with blood and head swathed in a bandage — said the attackers rained blows on them for nearly an hour. “If our supporters had not come in time, we would have been killed,” Chakroborty said.
CPM counter charge
The CPM today said Trinamul did not have enough candidates to field in the panchayat polls while dismissing allegations of using ‘terror tactic’ to scare Opposition nominees, says a staff reporter in Calcutta.
Left Front chairman and CPM leader Biman Bose said a section of Trinamul had shifted allegiance to the Congress, making it difficult for the party to find candidates. “A number of them are not interested in contesting fearing defeat,” he added.