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Howrah clash after cable row

- Victims blame Trinamul vendetta
Policemen posted at the approach to Chaura Basti, in Howrah’s Shibpur, where a clash broke out on Monday night. (Below) Sakib Qureshi, a resident who was injured in the clash. (Anup Bhattacharya)

A clash broke out in a Howrah locality, leaving a passerby with a gunshot wound, after a cable TV operator believed to be loyal to Trinamul snapped the connection to the homes of some Congress supporters.

The violence on Monday night — which witnesses described as a “pitched battle” — was reported from Shibpur’s Chaura Basti area, a few hundred metres from Avani Mall.

Masoom Raza, the cable operator, and two other men named in the FIR — Raju and Pintu — are absconding, said an officer of the Howrah police commissionerate.

Mahendra Kumar Prasad, a driver by profession and a resident of the locality, was walking home when a bullet hit him. He was taken to SSKM Hospital, where he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning.

“He was not involved in the clash. He was just walking past the spot when he took the hit,” said Prasad’s nephew, Sanjay Kumar Prasad.

Even at a time when revenge rules politics in Bengal, snapping cable connection to the homes of political rivals is unheard of.

Residents complained that they were watching the IPL clash between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians when the screens went blank around 8pm.

“We had initially thought that the disruption was temporary but sensed something wrong when the transmission was not restored even after an hour,” said Javed Qureshi, a resident.

“There are hundreds of subscribers in the area but Raza, who is a Trinamul activist, singled out only five homes, all belonging to Congress supporters,” alleged Qureshi, the Congress president of the ward.

Members of the affected households got in touch with Raza but he allegedly misbehaved with them.

“He told us that our service was disconnected because we had not paid the bills, the deadline for which was Sunday. He said our connections would be restored only if we paid a fine. We told him that he should have alerted us before snapping the connection but he started abusing us and threatened to teach us a lesson,” said Mohammad Mumtaz, whose family was among the affected five.

Residents said around 20 youths on motorbikes arrived at the spot around 11.30pm. “The two-wheelers stopped on the main road. The youths got off the vehicles and stormed the lane where our houses are located. We could identify two of the youths — Raju and Pintu — who were carrying revolvers and fired a few rounds. They also hurled crude bombs,” said Sakib Qureshi, a Congress worker in the area who alleged that one of the attackers had hit him on his head with the butt of a revolver.

The police have registered a complaint against 12 people but no one was arrested till Tuesday evening. “Masoom Raza, the cable operator, and Raju and Pintu are absconding,” said an officer of the Howrah City Police.