|One of the four arrested persons boards the police van outside the health centre. Picture by Mehedi Hedaytullah
Islampur, Dec. 3: A village feud between two groups of Congress supporters reeled out of control today when one side pursued an injured party panchayat member to a hospital and stabbed his cousin to death in the ward.
Residents of Goalpokhar, 35km from here, however, ringed the health centre and locked it up so that the gang of four attackers would not escape.
The dispute between the two groups of Congress workers was said to be over formation of the management committee of a village primary school. Around 9 this morning, the two groups clashed in Ambari village in Goalpokhar.
During the violence, Mohammed Illiyas, a 40-year-old farmer and Congress gram panchayat member, was hit in the head with a sharp object.
His cousin Mohammad Khaleq, a labourer, and several other villagers first took Illiyas to the Goalpokhar police station, about 8km away from the village, in a trekker. From there, the group took Illiyas to the Lodhan primary health centre, about 4km from the police station.
Local sources said Iliyas was one of the persons who would have decided on the names in the school management committee and he was at loggerheads with Mohammad Imamuddin, a local Congress leader, over the choice of representatives for the Ambari Sishu Shiksha Kendra.
Police sources said around 10.30am, Imamuddin and his supporters barged into the health centre. They tried to attack Iliyas, who was lying on a bed. Police said Khaleq tried to resist and was stabbed eight times. A member of the health centre staff, who did not want to be named, said Imamuddin arrived soon after Iliyas was admitted. “Imamuddin arrived at 10.30am and said he wanted to see a doctor but immediately after entering tried to attack Iliyas,” he said.
According to Lipika Biswas, a nurse present in the health centre during the attack, there were 10 patients being treated this morning. “I was attending to a woman when I heard a commotion in the room where male patients were lying. I saw a person lying on the floor covered in blood and patients screaming and running out. I too fled.”
When Khaleq was stabbed, Iliyas rushed out and raised an alarm. Local people surrounded the health centre and locked its gates to prevent Imamuddin and his three associates from escaping.
Around 11am, personnel from Goalpokhar police station arrived at the spot. An hour later, Islampur subdivisional police officer Subimal Pal reached with a large force and took away the four.
Locals said Imamuddin and his henchmen were also seen in a market near the police station after the clash in the village, before Illiyas and his supporters reached there to lodge a complaint.
When the police tried to take away Imamuddin and the other three — Rafiul, Habib and Hamid — local people lay siege to the health centre till 2pm to protest the murder.
The four have been charged with murder and will be produced in court tomorrow.
Some villagers said Imamuddin is an aide of Goalpokhar Congress MLA Gholam Rabbani, who denied the charge. “Those who attacked our gram panchayat member and killed his cousin are linked to the Forward Bloc,” he said.