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Minister caught in bomb clash

- Explosives hurled at Chandranath Sinha’s convoy; Birbhum Trinamul chief informs Mamata
Chandranath Sinha (left) at a Trinamul rally in Birbhum’s Muraroi in November

Rampurhat, Dec. 9: Fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha’s convoy was caught in a clash with bombs and bullets between two groups of villagers in Birbhum last night.

The minister, who escaped unhurt, was passing an NH60 stretch in Rampurhat when he got caught in the clash allegedly over a plot. Sinha and Birbhum zilla parishad chief Bikash Roy Chowdhury were returning after meeting family members of a Trinamul worker whose body was found floating in a pond in Kaluha village on Saturday.

Goutam Roy’s family had alleged that the Trinamul worker was murdered and his body was then thrown into the pond.

Sinha last night lodged a complaint with Birbhum police chief C. Sudhakar on the alleged attack on him. A copy of the complaint was sent to district Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal, who sent a text message to chief minister Mamata Banerjee in this regard.

The police, which termed Sinha’s getting caught in the clash “a coincidence”, conducted raids through the night and arrested three persons from Bagtui village. Among the arrested was a nephew of an upapradhan of a Trinamul-run panchayat.

Police sources said several bombs were hurled on the highway during the clash between two groups after a dispute over a plot. The convoy was passing the area at the time.

“Actually it was a coincidence. The bombs were being hurled and bullets fired even before the minister’s convoy reached the area. We have arrested three persons. I received a verbal complaint from the minister,” said, C. Sudhakar.

Asked about the clash, Sinha, an MLA from Bolpur, said: “Last evening, we were returning from Kaluha village after visiting the family of a party worker who died on Saturday. Bombs were being hurled then and some of them landed in front of my convoy. I complained to the district police chief.”

Birbhum Trinamul president Anubrata Mondal said he had informed the chief minister about Sinha getting caught in the clash.

“I don’t know who they were as the minister could not identify them in the dark. It was a matter of the minister’s security and so I informed the chief minister,” Mondal said.

The arrested persons were Ujjwal Sheikh, Kalu Sheikh and Almash Sheikh. Kalu Sheikh is the nephew of Mujibar Rahaman , the deputy chief of Trinamul-run Banhat panchayat.

“My nephew has been implicated in a false case. He is a Trinamul worker. Why should he hurl bombs at the convoy of a Trinamul minister? asked Mujibar.