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Feud fire guts home of TMC worker

Siliguri, June 16: The house of a Trinamul worker near Siliguri was destroyed early this morning in a fire, allegedly the result of intra-party rivalry over claiming the dry river bed of the Balasun river.

On June 11, a Trinamul party office was burnt down in Rajarhat, near Calcutta, because of a suspected turf war between party MLA Sabyasachi Dutta and MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar for control of construction material supply syndicates in a booming real estate zone.

In Porajhar this morning, Basudeb Sarkar, his wife and two children were asleep when the house went up in flames. They were unhurt.

Sources said the incident was a sequel to a clash between two groups in Trinamul over the encroachment of dry beds of the Balasun river skirting Porajhar village, 5km from Siliguri. Although Basudeb Sarkar didn’t point a finger at anyone, Trinamul insiders said the arson attack was because of infighting in the party.

“There are two groups in Trinamul here, one led by Kartick Mondal and another by Niranjan Sarkar. Mondal is a member of Fulbari I panchayat (under Rajganj block of Jalpaiguri district). Tapan Singha, the panchayat pradhan and Basudeb Sarkar are members of Mondal’s group,” said a Trinamul source.

Both Niranjan and Basudeb were CPM workers who had joined Trinamul a year back.

According to the sources, Niranjan and his cohorts were encroaching on the dry bed of the Balasun and selling plots to poor people.

“Singha wanted to clear the encroachments and on June 13, he sent his representatives, including Basudeb Sarkar, to the riverbed where they clashed with members of Niranjan Sarkar’s group. Niranjan had suffered an injury to the head. We think Basudeb Sarkar’s house was attacked because he had taken on the encroachers,” said the source.

Basudeb’s wife Sandhya also referred to the skirmish on June 13. “We feel those with whom my husband had an altercation on June 13 set the house on fire to kill us,” she said.

“All of us were sleeping. I woke up and found portions of the house in flames and thick smoke in our room. I called my husband and both of us came out with our two children.”

Although the local people and the fire brigade tried to bring the blaze under control, the house with concrete floor and tin walls and roof was razed to the ground.

The house had four rooms.

Basudeb Sarkar earns a living by driving an autorickshaw and owns two such three-wheelers.

“I had kept Rs 4 lakh at home to buy a piece of land and the entire cash was burnt. Apart from other belongings, my wife’s ornaments were also lost in the fire,” said Basudeb Sarkar, who has a 13-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son.

Minister Gautam Deb visited Porajhar today. Sources said he had asked both Kartik Mondal and Niranjan Sarkar to meet him.