Suri, Aug. 14: Two persons perceived to be close to a Trinamul block president in Birbhum have been arrested in connection with the murder of a party leader on Monday.
Police in Khoirashol have arrested two more persons, who they said had admitted to have been given the contract to kill Ashok Ghosh, the Trinamul leader shot dead by bike-borne youths.
Ashok Ghosh’s family has accused Khoirashol Trinamul block president Ashok Mukherjee for plotting the murder. The block chief, who is absconding, is known to be close to Birbhum Trinamul president Anubrata Mondal.
One of the two arrested persons said to be close to Ashok Mukherjee is a Trinamul panchayat samiti member while the other is an Independent who unsuccessfully contested the panchayat elections with the ruling party’s backing.
Sources said the police were probing three angles that could have had a bearing on the August 12 murder.
Most of the Trinamul winners in the panchayat elections in Khoirashol owed allegiance to Ashok Ghosh, whose popularity was said to have irked a rival faction led by Ashok Mukherjee.
The second angle the police are probing is an alleged feud within Birbhum Trinamul over illegal mining in the coal-rich Khoirashol-Dubrajpur belt, the sources added.
The police have not ruled out “revenge” as a motive. A Trinamul leader close to Ashok Mukherjee was killed last month, the blame of which had fallen on Ashok Ghosh’s followers.
The arrests of the four youths last night was on the basis of a complaint by Ashok Ghosh’s wife Bijoya, who named 12 persons in her FIR, among them Ashok Mukherjee.
Two of the arrested youths had been given the contract to kill Ashok Ghosh for Rs 7.5 lakh last month, the police said. “We will not disclose now who gave them the contract. The two are from Pandaveswar (in Burdwan) and were involved in illegal coal mining in the area,” a police officer said in Khoirashol.
The two others arrested last night are Kalicharan Das, who won a Khoirashol panchayat samiti seat, and Anuday Bauri, a Trinamul-backed Independent who lost a zilla parishad seat in Khoirashol. “Both are followers of Ashok Mukherjee,” the officer said.
Malay Mukherjee, the district vice-president of Trinamul, said 10 of the 12 persons named in the FIR “owe allegiance to Ashok Mukherjee”. “But I want to make it clear that the allegation that Trinamul workers and leaders are involved in the murder is false.”
Trinamul insiders today said 75 people from Ashok Ghosh’s faction had contested in the 110 gram panchayat seats in Khoirashol block. “Of the 75 candidates, 65 won,” a party leader said.
Party sources said Ashok Ghosh’s massive following not only in Khoirashol but also in the neighbouring areas of Barrah and Rupuspur was interpreted in Trinamul circles as a failure on Ashok Mukherjee’s part.
Anubrata Mondal said party workers were not involved in the murder. “The complaint is a conspiracy against me and my followers. I will inform senior party leaders about it,” he said.