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Man linked to Trinamul held in firing case
- Arrest of bus association leader opposed to Rabindranath lifts lid on infighting

Barrackpore, June 19: A person with suspected Trinamul Congress links was arrested today in connection with the firing on a senior party colleague in Barrackpore, 16 hours after minister Jyotipriya Mullick blamed the BJP and the CPM.

Vicky Yadav, the chairman of the association of route No. 78 bus owners according to a member, is said to belong to the camp of a local leader opposed to Rabindranath Bhattacharyya, who was shot at thrice last night. A Trinamul trade union leader said all three bus associations in Barrackpore were affiliated to the INTTUC.

Bhattacharyya, a former Trinamul councillor who is the president of the bar association of Barrackpore court, was attacked by a group of armed youths at his chamber in North 24-Parganas’ Ardalibazar.

“He underwent two surgeries since last night and all three bullets have been removed. He is critical and on ventilator support but is conscious,” said an official of the hospital off EM Bypass where Bhattacharyya, said to be close to Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy, is admitted.

Roy and food minister Mullick, the Trinamul observer for North 24-Parganas, visited Bhattacharyya at the hospital last night. Some supporters outside the hospital had complained to Roy about factional feud. He had put his finger to lips and said: “We will discuss this later.” However, in Barrackpore today, Trinamul “infighting” was the talk of the town.

Private buses and autorickshaws stayed off roads and shops remained closed in Barrackpore. “Rabinda is a prominent leader in the area. We are protesting the attack on him,” a local Trinamul leader said.

The attack on Bhattacharyya has lifted the lid on Trinamul infighting in Barrackpore, an industrial township 28km from Calcutta. Sources said Trinamul was split into two groups in the area, one apparently owing allegiance to Roy and the other to Arjun Singh, the Bhatpara MLA.

“As of now, it seems the attack on Bhattacharyya was the fallout of infighting,” a police officer said.

The sources said that two years ago, Bhattacharyya shifted from Singh’s camp to that of Roy, who began his political career in North 24-Parganas and takes active interest in local politics.

According to the police, arrested leader Vicky allegedly owed allegiance to Shibu Yadav, said to be an associate of MLA Singh. The police suspect there could be a “conspiracy” by a section of Trinamul leaders to attack Bhattacharyya. A local Trinamul leader said Vicky’s arrest had “made it clear” that some in the party were “involved” in the attack.

Shibu’s name had featured on billboards and banners put up in Barrackpore to seek votes for Trinamul Lok Sabha poll candidate Dinesh Trivedi. Shibu was arrested a fortnight ago on the charge of possessing ganja and is lodged in Barrackpore jail, less than 1km from his home in Naya Bazar. Vicky is from the same area, the police said.

Late today, the police arrested another of the nine persons named in the FIR based on Bhattacharyya’s statement. The police said his name was Arun Mukherjee. Vicky’s name is not on the FIR.

Senior Trinamul leaders iterated today that none from the party was involved in the attack on Bhattacharyya. “CPM goons did it with the BJP’s help,” minister Mullick said. He claimed Shibu had been “expelled from the party five-six months ago”.

C. Sudhakar, the detective chief of the Barrackpore police commissionerate, said two persons had been arrested on the charge of attempting to murder Bhattacharyya.

A member of the Route No. 78 Bus Owners’ Welfare Association, which runs 68 buses on the Barrackpore-Esplanade route, claimed Vicky was the chairman of the “apolitical” outfit.

“The association is an apolitical platform. Vicky, however, is a Trinamul worker,” said Jaydip Gupta, a member of the association.

The sources said Shibu had been arrested last year for allegedly ransacking Bhattacharyya’s chamber. Shibu obtained bail in the case.

A Trinamul source claimed Shibu controlled a group that allegedly pilfered sand from the Ganga bed and a syndicate that supplied construction materials.

The source said Shibu had bagged the lease to collect fees for entering the Barrackpore cantonment-owned Mangal Pandey Garden. The leader also allegedly controls the business of ferrying children to school.

“Some 70-80 lorries ferry white sand every day. Each lorry allegedly pays Rs 800 to the syndicate running the illegal mining. Bhattacharyya had tried to stop this. This could be the reason behind the attack,” a resident said.

MLA Singh denied that Shibu was involved in the attack on Bhattacharyya. “It would be wrong to name any person. It is up to the police to find out,” Singh said.