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CPM rural leader shot dead

Islampur, Nov. 27: A CPM panchayat samiti member was shot dead by two bike-borne assailants this morning in his village, sparking protests by party workers who set fire to a government office and blocked NH31 for four hours.

The CPM has alleged that Shaheen Akhtar, a Trinamul local leader who had contested against Nazeer Ahmed, the 50-year-old murdered CPM panchayat samiti member, and lost was behind the killing.

Akhtar, when contacted, denied his hand in the killing. He said his relations with Ahmed were good and it was “shocking” that he had been killed.

Late in the evening, Ahmed’s family lodged a murder case naming Akhtar.

The CPM holds the Chopra panchayat samiti. The party’s Chopra zonal committee secretary, Anwarul Haq, mentioned the name of Akhtar, saying the murder was the ploy of Trinamul which was “desperate to wrest the Chopra panchayat samiti” from the CPM.

The CPM held 14 seats in the 24-member Chopra panchayat samiti. Trinamul had won four seats and the Congress six. But two of the Congress members switched to Trinamul.

In this year’s panchayat elections, Akhtar lost to Ahmed by three votes.

“Ahmed was an influential leader,” Haq said. He also alleged that Akhtar had abducted Ahmed and two other CPM members just before the panchayat samiti was formed in Chopra.

“The police rescued them a day later. Akhtar was the direct rival of Nazeer in the elections and he lost. We firmly believe that Akhtar planned the killing to take revenge and weaken our party,” Haq said.

Around 9.30am today, Ahmed, who is the karmadhakshya (land) of the panchayat samiti, was on his way to the local cooperative bank where he is the manager, when he was shot.

Ahmed had left home in Jharbari, the same village where Akhtar stays. He had stopped to speak to a lady about a kilometre from home when the two men on a motorbike came and shot him.

CPM supporters went on the rampage and attacked the Chopra block development office and the block land records office. The mob set the block land records office on fire. The protesters also blocked NH31 at Chopra from 11am to 3pm.

A Trinamul party office was also attacked in Chopra where a mob also damaged a government vehicle.

Chopra Trinamul Congress MLA, Hamidur Rehman, said there was no politics involved in the murder.

“The name of our party and its members are unnecessarily being dragged into this incident. There is no politics involved in this killing,” Hamidur said.

Akhtar, when contacted over the phone seemed shocked when he was told about the murder.

“I am in Raiganj since yesterday for the chief minister’s visit. Nazeer Ahmed’s murder is shocking. I had a very good relationship with him and why should I murder him?” he asked. “As far as I have heard, Nazeer sahab, was carrying cash to the bank when two looters on a motorbike tried to steal the money,” Akhtar said.