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CPM’s poll price: Lakhs

Burdwan, June 25: Around 16 Burdwan CPM members who had campaigned in the Lok Sabha polls have allegedly been ordered by Trinamul Congress activists to pay “fines” ranging between Rs 20,000 and Rs 5 lakh.

The CPM today lodged a complaint with the Burdwan police chief, alleging that Raina police station had refused to register an FIR against the members of the ruling party.

Trinamul said the allegation was baseless.

The CPM members, all of whom are farmers, complained that all but one of them had fled their homes because of Trinamul “threats” after the Lok Sabha elections. When they returned on June 1, the Trinamul workers allegedly called them to the local office of the ruling party and ordered them to pay the money by June 27, failing which they would be driven out of the village.

In the complaint lodged with Burdwan superintendent of police S.M.H. Meerza, the CPM said the “fault” of the party leaders and workers was that they had campaigned for the Left candidate for the Burdwan East constituency, which Trinamul won.

Complainant Sheikh Akhtar Ali, the secretary of the Raina zonal committee of the CPM, said: “I was forced to lodge the complaint with the SP as the OC of the local police station refused to accept it.”

Meerza said he had received the complaint and would “launch an investigation and take appropriate steps”. The police chief said he would “seek an explanation” from the officer in charge of Raina police station, whom the CPM members have accused of refusing to accept their FIR.

According to CPM leader Manik Chowdhury, the 16 party members, including the chief of the party-controlled Raina gram panchayat, had led the campaigning for Burdwan East candidate Iswar Chandra Das in the area.

“If I have to pay Rs 5 lakh, I will have to sell my six-bigha land. How can I sell my land? It is my only means of sustenance. We went to the police but to no avail. We then informed our zonal committee secretary and he lodged a complaint with the SP today,” Chowdhury said.

“After the results were announced on May 16, around 40 Trinamul leaders and workers took out a motorcycle procession in Raina village. They came to our homes and threatened us with dire consequences if we stayed in the village. They told us that we would be allowed to live in Raina only if we joined Trinamul. We got scared and fled our homes. Only (panchayat chief) Madhabilata Dhara stayed back,” Chowdhury said.

Mohammad Musha, another CPM leader in Raina village, said he had been told to pay Rs 5 lakh. “We have been asked to pay up by June 27. Four of us went to lodge a complaint with the officer in charge of Raina police station, Rakesh Singh, yesterday but he refused to accept it.”

Singh denied that any CPM leader or worker from Raina had come to the police station yesterday to lodge an FIR. “It is not true that I did not accept the complaint. No one from Raina village approached me,” he said.

Mohsin Chowdhury, a Burdwan Trinamul leader and former president of the party’s youth wing unit in Raina who is among those named in the CPM’s complaint, said: “The allegation against us is baseless. We have not imposed any fine on them, nor have we issued any threat. I don’t know why they are so scared.”