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Trinamul leader assaulted at party meet
- Glare on faction feud in Malda

Malda, June 13: The Malda district working president of the Trinamul Congress, Pratibha Singh, was pushed off the dais at a party meeting in Ratua today and beaten up by her alleged detractors in the organisation.

The attack is being seen as the fallout of the faction feud between two ministers, Krishnendu Chowdhury and Sabitri Mitra, from Malda following Trinamul’s debacle in Malda South and North in the Lok Sabha elections.

Around 300 Trinamul workers were present at the meeting and after the attack on 42-year-old Singh, they clashed with each other. Both the sides alleged that bombs were burst and shots fired in the violence. However, other than Singh, nobody was injured in the clash at Ratua, 30km from here.

Trinamul’s district president, Moazzem Hossain, has filed a complaint with Ratua police without naming anyone. However, Singh’s brother, Manab, has named local Trinamul leader Yasin Sheikh and 14 others in a separate complaint for the attack on the working president.

Singh, who is known to be close to food processing minister Chowdhury, has been admitted to the Malda Medical College and Hospital. She is also a councillor of the Englishbazar municipality.

Hossain said a meeting was called in a mango orchard to elect the president of the party’s Ratua I block. “There was a sudden commotion and one of our lady leaders was pushed off the dais. She was then beaten up and suffered bleeding injuries. There was also a clash and bombs and firearms were used. I have filed a complaint without naming anyone. We had to call off the meeting,” Hossain said.

According to Singh, the meeting started around 11am. “Our district president Hossain and other leaders were present at the meeting. Other local leaders like Yasin Sheikh and his supporters began crowding the dais. I protested and asked them to get off as the platform could collapse. Yasin became angry and he and his men pushed me off the dais and began kicking and beating me up,” she said from the hospital bed.

Doctors said Singh had received three stitches on the forehead and her condition was stable.

Only a handful of policemen were present during the attack. The reinforcements reached the spot after the violence was over.

Yasin, who could be contacted on his mobile phone, denied that he had any hand in the incident. “I have not indulged in any violence nor have I beaten up anyone. The supporters of Pratibha Singh created the ruckus and used bombs and guns to disrupt the meeting. I had organised the meeting. Singh and her cohorts created the ruckus so that we couldn’t sit on the dais.”

Contacted over the phone in Calcutta, minister Chowdhury said the incident did not augur well for the party.

“The incident needs to be condemned. Those who assaulted the working president are dangerous for the party. They should be arrested and punished. The person who has carried out the attack, Yasin Sheikh, is a criminal of the area and has many cases, including that of murder, pending against him. Today’s incident has been reported to Mamata Banerjee,” Krishnendu said.

Sabitri Mitra, Trinamul MLA from Manikchak and a minister without portfolio, said: “I have heard that there was trouble at a party meeting in Ratua where a leader had been pushed off the dais. However, I have no idea who were involved.”

She was the Malda district president of Trinamul and removed from the post after an indirect verbal spat with Chowdhury over the party’s worst performance in the Malda Lok Sabha seats. The Trinamul candidate, Moazzem Hossain, had finished fourth in South Malda. Singh and Babla Sarkar were made the party’s working presidents in Malda after the poll results were announced.

Sources in the party said the main accused in today’s attack, Sheikh, was close to minister Mitra.

Trinamul secretary general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee today said the district administration was asked to take “firm action” against those involved in assaulting Malda’s working district president, irrespective of their political identifies.

Chatterjee, however, ducked the question that if the attack on Singh was the outcome of the squabbles within Trinamul.

“This much, I can tell you that the administration will firmly deal with those involved in today’s attack,” he said.

Malda police superintendent Prasun Banerjee said the incident was under investigation. “There was violence at a meeting in Ratua and a leader has been injured. The Ratua police have received two complaints — one by Trinamul district president, Hossain and another by Manab Singh, the brother of the injured leader. The police have already arrested Dulal Miyan, 46, Anisur Miyan, 33, and Syed Ansarul, 32. They will be produced in court tomorrow,” Banerjee said.