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Leader by smuggler side angers Trinamul

Durgapur, Oct. 26: A Trinamul block president’s visit to a Durgapur hospital to console relatives of a coal smuggler who was shot dead yesterday has angered party leaders in the area.

Trinamul leaders in Asansol and Durgapur said they were embarrassed on learning that Sujit Mukherjee not only consoled Sheikh Selim’s relatives but also claimed he was an “active party worker”.

Law minister Malay Ghatak, who hails from Asansol, said the Laodoha block chief’s act was a “shame” for the party. “It was not appropriate for him to be present at the hospital. Sheikh Selim was a known CPM-backed coal smuggler. Last year, we had promised to eradicate coal smuggling in Asansol and Durgapur. Mukherjee’s act is a shame for us. I will take action against him.”

Sources said Mukherjee had yesterday rushed to Durgapur Steel Plant Hospital and talked to Selim’s relatives for hours. The coal smuggler was shot dead near his Kailashpur home by bike-borne youths.

Asked the reason for his visit, Mukherjee said Selim was a “changed man”. “Selim was trying to return to the mainstream and had approached us. I was just helping him. He became an active party supporter in the area.”

Some other Trinamul leaders in Durgapur accused Mukherjee of helping Selim to reorganise coal smuggling.

The police have detained two persons in connection with Selim’s murder. “We had information that Selim was regrouping to resume organised coal trafficking in Asansol-Durgapur and the murder may be the fallout of a rivalry,” said Ajay Nand, the commissioner of police in Asansol-Durgapur.