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Bloody belt comes alive
- Chhoto Angaria-accused CPM leader shot dead

Garbeta (West Midnapore), April 24: One of the prime accused in the alleged Chhoto Angaria carnage was gunned down in the midst of an evening crowd at Phulberia yesterday and the area once dreaded for violence was again pitchforked into limelight for the wrong reasons.

Golap Mallick, an influential local committee member of the CPM, was among the main suspects in the incident in which 11 Trinamul Congress supporters were allegedly killed in the run-up to the 2001 Assembly polls.

Mallick was shot four times from close range last evening, in the run-up to the rural polls.

The CPM was quick to put the blame of the murder on the People’s War and the Opposition parties. But there were few takers in a region that saw little Opposition activity in the past two years.

Phulberia was part of the area “liberated” by the CPM about two years ago and bristles with armed CPM cadre. The Left Front has won uncontested in 127 of the 163 seats in Garbeta-I block (the CPM accounted for 115) and no candidate from any Opposition party is contesting the polls from any of the seats in Uttarbil, Kandra, Bhedua, Barmura, Nemnagar, Sandhipur and Tildanga.

The Opposition has also not challenged the CPM in any of the 28 panchayat samiti seats; 20 of them have already been won (uncontested) by the CPM. Only Independents — many of them believed to be from the CPM itself — are challenging the party in the remaining eight.

Mallick, along with some other CPM local committee members, was believed to have been working for some of the Independents.

The slain leader used to carry a firearm and apparently told his family that he feared for his life.

“Besides, the fact that no witness has come forward in 24 hours to talk about the killing also indicates that the murderers were people known in the area,” police officials said.

“People are slamming their doors on our investigators,” one of them added.

Mallick’s wife, Shakil Jan Bibi, said the weapon her husband was carrying was snatched away before he was shot. The mother of five added that her husband had been saying he was feeling threatened.

The CPM’s Garbeta zonal committee secretary Sukur Ali insisted that the murder was the handiwork of People’s War activists aided by the Trinamul Congress-BJP alliance.

Ali, also an accused in the Chhoto Angaria “carnage”, however, added that the party had given the police a “free hand” to probe the murder.

Garbeta CPM MLA Sushanta Ghosh was “shocked” at the turn of events. “I addressed a public meeting with him only a few days ago,” he recalled.

Party leaders admitted that most of the Independents contesting against the CPM were being promoted by a group comprising Mallick. In an area where no Opposition party could put up a single candidate, it is “virtually unbelievable” that one of them plotted the killing of such an influential leader, they said.

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