Calcutta, Jan. 8: Van after van stood burning on a road not too far from Calcutta shortly before noon today, sending up in smoke the Trinamul leadership’s bluster that appeared to condone political violence.
At least one person suffered a bullet injury in the flare-up at Bhangar in South 24-Parganas, although the government said it was still collecting the details.
As many as eight vehicles carrying CPM supporters bore the brunt of the torching skills of a crowd, said to be packed with Trinamul supporters, on the outskirts of Calcutta today. More vehicles, from both sides, were damaged: 16 vans ferrying CPM supporters and three cars and as many motorbikes belonging to Trinamul supporters.
The arson attack, beamed across the country by television channels, was the culmination of the violence that had erupted on Saturday night and was marked by the assault on CPM veteran Abdur Rezzak Mollah on Sunday.
The Trinamul Congress had kept silent on the Sunday assault, blamed on the party’s former MLA Arabul Islam, and some ministers had termed the hospitalisation of Mollah a “drama”.
Although industries minister Partha Chatterjee called on Mollah with a bouquet of flowers yesterday, the effort was seen as a belated damage-control. The worst fears came true today when fresh violence broke out. The situation turned grave enough to warrant a decision by chief minister Mamata Banerjee to cut short her medical leave and reach Writers’ meeting for a high-level meeting.
The CPM supporters were on their way to a Left protest rally at Alipore. Around 11.30pm, the vehicles were burnt down at Bamanghata in the Bhangar area in attacks by alleged Trinamul supporters loyal to the ruling party’s local strongman Arabul.
CPM activists were travelling from South 24-Parganas to attend today’s rally at Alipore that was held to protest Sunday’s Trinamul attack on CPM MLA and former minister Mollah at the same place.
Trinamul made a counter allegation today that their party activists were attacked and injured by CPM cadres while the latter were on their way to Alipore.
Both the CPM and the Trinamul alleged that the opposing side had opened fire at them. However, authorities of RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences at Mukundapur, where some of the injured CPM supporters had been taken, confirmed tonight that at least one of the injured CPM supporters had received a bullet injury.
Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra said at Writers’ Buildings that 10 to 12 people were arrested in connection with the Bhangar incident.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had to cut short her rest at home where she is recuperating from fever and held a meeting with police chiefs at Writers' Buildings to take stock of the developments.
“CPM men tore away Trinamul flags, festoons and damaged a picture of Mamata Banerjee. After that, they ransacked two Scorpio cars, one Santro and three motorcycles,” a resident said.