Deb consoles the family members of Jafruddin at Bhandarigach on Monday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Ambari, (Jalpaiguri), Feb. 3: Neighbours of the four men who had been found dead at a village in Balaram yesterday said today that the deceased were the supporters of the Trinamul Congress and the CPM had planned the attack to make it look like an infighting among cattle rustlers to regain its lost ground in the area.
The allegations were raised by over 200 villagers before north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb when he visited Bhandarigach, adjacent to Balaram, today. Three of the deceased were from Bhandarigach, around 20km from here.
While two charred bodies were spotted in a car that was gutted, the others were found dead 100-150m away.
The burnt body of a cow was also found in the car near the India-Bangladesh border.
Siliguri police commissioner said yesterday that the four were suspected to have been killed in a fight between two groups of cattle rustlers. “Those who died yesterday are poor day wage labourers. None of them are cattle rustlers or smugglers. They were attacked and killed by CPM goons in a premeditated manner to spread terror in the area. The CPM is fast losing its grasp in Rajganj block and is desperate for a comeback. The party planned and executed this heinous crime to regain its lost ground,” said Samijuddin Ahmed, a Trinamul member of Binnaguri gram panchayat under Rajganj block.
He said the three deceased from Bhandarigach were Md. Jafruddin, 30, Md. Abdul Jalil, 35, who used to clean wells, and Javed Ali, 30, a carpenter. The fourth deceased, Md. Sabruddin, 30, was a driver from the nearby Fulbari.
The villagers, who were holding Trinamul banners and placards, shouted slogans in front of Deb who was camping on the ground of Bhandarigach primary school, along with Rajganj Trinamul MLA Khageswar Roy.
Md. Jamiruddin, a neighbour of Jafruddin, said: “They (attackers) kept a cow inside the car, killed all four persons and then set the vehicle on fire to make it look like an incident that was the fallout of a fight between two gangs of cattle rustlers. We knew these four residents for decades. They were Trinamul supporters and poor workers who struggled to earn a livelihood everyday. They were neither cattle thieves nor had any link with them.”
The agitated people demanded the immediate arrest of the murderers.
“Entire Bhandarigach and neighbouring areas like Balaram are enraged at the incident and want the immediate arrest of those who killed the four for political interests. The attackers should get exemplary punishment,” said Safijuddin Ahmed, another resident.
The minister assured the people of all possible steps and visited the houses of Jafruddin and Abdul Jalil.
As the crowd dispersed after 45 minutes, Deb spoke to journalists and condemned the murders. But he refused to directly blame the CPM for the incident.
“We are not ready to level a charge (against the CPM) as police investigation is in the preliminary phase. However, considering the resentment of the local people, we have to assume that there is some sense in their claims. The manner in which the quartet has been murdered is gruesome. There had been attacks across north Bengal to create tension and to breach peace,” said the minister.
He added that he would wait for the probe to be over before reaching a conclusion.
The police stuck to their stand that rivalry between two gangs of cattle rustlers was to blame for the murder of the four.
“Based on what has been revealed through investigations so far, we stick to our yesterday’s finding,” said S. Rajkumar, the additional deputy commissioner (East) of Siliguri metropolitan police.
CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya said Trinamul was doing politics over the issue.
“The incident was barbaric. Some Trinamul leaders are doing politics over such a heinous crime and raising baseless allegations against our party,” he said.