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Victory in death, Jamboni tense

Midnapore, May 13: Slain CPM leader Basudeb Bhakat today won the panchayat samity seat he had stood for even as Jamboni in West Midnapore continued to sit on a tinder box with four deaths in the past 24 hours.

The local committee secretary of the CPM in Jamboni was kidnapped by alleged Jharkhand Party supporters on Sunday. His mutilated body was found in a forest in the area yesterday.

With Bhakat’s win, the CPM wrested the seat from the Jharkhand Party and as victory processions snaked through the block shouting incendiary slogans, police and the district administration geared up for a fresh flare-up

Jamboni is wearing the look of a battleground with personnel of the Rapid Action Force whizzing by, their assault rifles and carbines raised. There is hardly anyone on the roads, and the appearance of a curfew prevails though there is none.

The police deployment in the area has been doubled. More companies of the Orissa State Armed Police have been called for and the number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel increased.

The CPM has called a 24-hour bandh tomorrow to protest Bhakat’s murder.

“The police have been able to identify some of the Jharkhand Party supporters who had assembled at Sapdhara and were instrumental in abducting Bhakat. We have arrested several persons in connection with the murder but I am not divulging their names for the sake of investigation,” said West Midnapore superintendent of police K.C. Meena.

The police said forces from adjoining Jharkhand have stepped up vigil along the inter-state border and the police stations there have been put on full alert.

The police have also set up permanent camps in sensitive areas like Gidhni, Pukuria, Balidiha, Dubra and Parihati. Intelligence reports had indicated that both Jharkhand Party and CPM supporters were arming themselves for a showdown.

This is, however, not the only time in recent months that the area has been seething with tension. In October, a local committee member of the CPM was murdered and a Congress leader and two Jharkhand Party functionaries were killed in retaliation. Since the Assembly election in 2001, 25 people have been murdered in the area.

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