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Syndicate-war slur on locals

Food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mullick on Wednesday held local youths responsible for the pitched battle the day before in Barasat between two alleged factions of the party over syndicates that control the supply of construction material in the area.

Mullick, who represents Habra in the Assembly and is also the president of the North 24-Parganas Trinamul unit, refuted reports of party men controlling or fighting over supply syndicates.

“Trinamul-controlled syndicates don’t exist in the area. The trouble is with local youths fighting among themselves. I had directed police to take stern action against anybody creating trouble in the area,” he said.

The minister made the statement after residents of Sonakharki village in Jagannathpur, on the outskirts of Barasat, demanded the district Trinamul leadership’s intervention in restoring peace in the area.

At least six policemen were wounded and several shops destroyed in the violence at a spot 5km from Barasat and 30km from Calcutta along the Barasat-Barrackpore Road.

Syndicates have mushroomed in the area as several budget housing complexes are coming up there.

Mullick may deny any Trinamul links, but syndicates involved in supplying building materials and land transactions have been leading to friction and skirmishes between party factions in areas like Barasat and New Town that are witnessing a realty boom.

Residents, including Trinamul supporters and members of supply syndicates, said party leaders of the district would have to broker peace.

“It is a fact that all the youths involved in supply-related activities are either members or supporters of the ruling party. Senior leaders will have to rein in the supporters in order to restore peace in the area,” said a villager, shaken by Tuesday’s clashes.

Senior party leaders didn’t visit the place on Wednesday despite the residents seeking reassurance from the party.

Several police pickets have cropped up in the area since the situation was still fluid. “Anything can happen anytime. Senior leaders will have to intervene,” said a Trinamul member of the area.