Chinsurah, Aug. 31: CPM supporters blocked GT Road near here this morning and clashed with police protesting against the arrest of two leaders accused of murder.
The police had to fire in the air and burst teargas shells to disperse the mob from Hooghly More, 50 km from Calcutta.
Late last night, the police picked up Nikhil Pandey, the pradhan of Kodalia-II gram panchayat, and Benoy Chatterjee, the secretary of the CPM youth wing DYFI’s Kodalia-II committee, in connection with the four-year-old murder.
Furious over the arrests, a few hundred people led by the CPM’s Bandel-Mogra zonal committee secretary, Dilip Saha, and local committee chief Moloy Sarkar converged on Hooghly More and blocked heavy early morning traffic.
The situation aggravated around 9 when the mob stoned a Chinsurah-bound Government Railway Police jeep. A large force led by deputy superintendent Mansoor Ali Meer and Chinsurah OC Sankha Biswas brought the situation under control around 10.30 am, more than four hours after trouble had erupted.
The police said six personnel and about 35 others were injured when the mob hurled brickbats and “other missiles”. Superintendent Ajay Kumar said five rounds were fired in the air but no one was injured in that. Fifteen people have been arrested.
Kumar said the CPM leaders were held following a court order to reopen the case.
On the night of February 14, 2000, a trio called Manoj Majumdar out of his home near Hooghly station saying Pandey was looking for him. He never returned. His body was found off the station with multiple stab wounds.
The police had closed the files on the murder because of “lack of evidence”. The Chinsurah court ordered their reopening early this month following a plea from Manoj’s mother, Chhabi Majumdar, who alleged that the police handled the case shoddily.
The CPM leaders arrested last night have been remanded in custody for five days.
Those at the helm of the seething mob this morning said the police ransacked the leaders’ houses. “A section of the police, particularly the officer-in-charge of Chinsurah police station, is harassing innocent people,” said Saha.
State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said he received a report from the party’s district unit, but refused to divulge its contents or comment.
The party has entrusted its MP from Hooghly, Rupchand Pal, to oversee the situation.
But Pal found fault with the police, not the cadre who turned the highway into a battlefield. “By the way the police behaved, it appeared they had come to arrest criminals. The panchayat pradhan is an elected representative and has held at least 400 meetings with top officers... The leaders did not abscond and would have surrendered if asked to. But they were dragged out,” he said.