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Hitmen shoot lawyer, trigger faction cry

Calcutta, June 18: A senior Trinamul leader, who is also the bar association president of Barrackpore court, was struck by three bullets tonight in an attack blamed on factional feud at the doorstep of Calcutta.

Rabindranath Bhattacharyya, a former councillor and one of the most influential lawyers in the area, was admitted to a private hospital in Calcutta after two youths attacked him at his chamber in North 24-Parganas’ Ardalibazar.

Sources said Bhattacharyya, said to be close to Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy who called on the patient tonight, took at least three bullets — one in his chest, another in his ribs and the third in his leg.

“He is conscious, but his situation remains critical…. Doctors suspect that the bullets are still lodged inside,” said a hospital source around 10.30pm.

Bhattacharyya has given a statement to the police and identified some persons, according to Jyotipriya Mullick, the state food minister and party observer for North 24-Parganas.

The Trinamul leadership blamed the CPM and the BJP. But Bhattacharyya’s supporters who gathered at the hospital said factional feud was responsible.

The Barrackpore belt has been witnessing a tug-of-war between two factions over spoils from the transport business and illegal sand mining.

The rift had spilled out in the open recently when Trinamul MLA Arjun Singh accused party leaders of influencing police to stop his car and run a check by holding him at gunpoint. The MLA, who took his grievances to the chief minister, had later said that he would move the court if no action was taken against the cops.

In June 2013, Bhattacharyya had blamed Shibu Yadav, a close aide of MLA Singh, for a murder that was linked to factionalism.

Sources said that the rivalry between the two groups intensified after Singh learnt that Roy was pitching his son for the mayoral post of the proposed Barrackpore Corporation.

“The attack on Bhattacharyya was planned by the CPM and the BJP,” said minister Mullick.

But a man sitting outside the hospital and who identified himself as a Trinamul supporter said: “Rabinda has been a prominent leader for years but nothing like this has ever happened in the Left regime. Then how can the leaders say that the attack was planned by CPM supporters? The attack must be a result of infighting within our party.”

Trinamul had also held the Opposition responsible for Saturday’s murder of four persons in South 24-Parganas’ Raidighi although relatives later spoke of a factional feud.

When Roy, the all-India general secretary of Trinamul, came out of the hospital after calling on Bhattacharyya, some supporters waiting outside approached him and started complaining about police inaction and faction fights.

Roy put his finger to lips and said: “We will discuss this later.”