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Youth shot at for hooch protest
- Family points finger at Trinamul, victim out of danger

Tamluk, July 10: A 22-year-old youth who had allegedly protested alleged extortion, drinking sessions and gambling by a section of Trinamul Congress workers in East Midnapore’s Contai was shot at today.

A doctor at the Calcutta nursing home where Sheikh Saddam, who owns a meat shop, has been admitted said the bullet had grazed the youth’s chest and no surgery was required.

Saddam’s father has lodged a police complaint against 10 persons. Police have arrested three of them so far.

The attack on Saddam came less than a week after the murder of anti-hooch crusader Sourav Chowdhury at Bamangachi in North 24-Parganas. Sourav’s beheaded and dismembered body was found beside the railway tracks. The prime accused, who has been arrested, has alleged Trinamul links.

S.K. Jain, the superintendent of East Midnapore police, said when asked about the attack on Saddam: “We have arrested three FIR-named persons. The rest are absconding. We are looking for the weapon.”

Saddam, who also rents out a Maruti Omni, was taken to Contai subdivisional hospital, from where he was shifted to the nursing home in Calcutta’s Ekabalpore.

A doctor at the nursing home said: “The bullet grazed the right side of Saddam’s chest. No surgery was required. He is out of danger.”

Saddam’s father Sheikh Rukuddin, 60, said his son was called out of his home by some youths, “most of them local Trinamul workers” around 10 last night.

“(Saddam’s wife) Sajina told me that someone called up Saddam on his phone last night. Saddam told Sajina before leaving home that he had been called by some loyal Trinamul youths who might need his car,” Rukuddin said.

“My younger son Sheikh Saheb, who had gone to the market, said he saw Saddam talking to the Trinamul workers there around 10.30pm. After midnight, some villagers came to my house and informed me that my son was lying in the market in a pool of blood,” Rukuddin added.

Sajina said Saddam had protested extortion of traders, drinking sessions gambling by Trinamul workers.

“Local people are scared of them but my husband had protested when the Trinamul workers demanded money from a cigarette stall owner three weeks ago. There was a scuffle between my husband and some of those Trinamul workers. They had threatened to kill my husband,” Sajina said.

Saddam’s brother Saheb, 16, said Saddam had protested when some Trinamul men had tied up the employee of a shop to a lamppost and beat him up on the charge of theft two months ago. “After my brother intervened, other villagers came forward and the shop employee was released,” said Saheb.

A Trinamul general secretary in East Midnapore, Mahmud Hossain, said: “We don’t want to go into whether they (accused) are Trinamul workers or supporters. We demand they be punished irrespective of political colour.”

Sheikh Malek, a farmer and a neighbour of Saddam, said the Trinamul workers were creating terror in the village. “This Trinamul group has been creating terror in our area for a long time. They earlier belonged to the Congress and joined Trinamul after the panchayat polls last year. Saddam was attacked because he had protested against their extortion, drinking and gambling,” said Malek.