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Land whiff in Ranjan attack

- Councillor implicates Krishna Pal, party sees turf tussle

Siliguri, Aug. 7: The attack last night on Trinamul councillor Ranjan Silsharma has brought to the fore a purported land and real estate tussle between two party factions in Siliguri, one led by the councillor, the other by his colleague Krishna Pal.

Trinamul sources said Silsharma and Pal were never in the best of terms and Pal had raised objections to an alleged attempt by Silsharma to grab a vacant plot in town.

The vacant land is in ward 23, of which Pal is the councillor. It is also where Silsharma resides. Trinamul minister Gautam Deb said the party would look into the issue.

“We have spoken to Pal and Silsharma. Some allegations over a plot have been raised and we will look into the entire issue and try to resolve it with urgency. There is no question of anyone grabbing any plot,” the north Bengal development minister said.

Sources in Trinamul said Pal and Silsharma had been wrangling over the small plot in ward 23 for sometime now. “Silsharma’s supporters allege Pal wants to forcibly acquire the plot which has a small Kali temple. But Silsharma is desperate to foil Pal’s plan. Pal and his followers want Silsharma to focus on ward 36 and stay away from the affairs of ward 23,” said a source.

Silsharma is the councillor of ward 36 of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

Silsharma, who was taken to hospital last night after a man slapped him, today said: “I was returning home when Gobinda Sarkar slapped me without any provocation in front of my house around 11pm. As I shouted for help and tried to resist Gobinda, he escaped on a two-wheeler. While fleeing, Gobinda yelled that I wouldn’t be able to take any step against him as he was backed by Krishna Pal.”

Asked about the allegation made by Silsharma, Pal, who is also the secretary general of Darjeeling district Trinamul, said: “I came to know about the attack this morning. I won’t comment on the allegations levelled by him (Silsharma). People know about him. I am ready to face any inquiry, if conducted by the party.”

Silsharma was taken to Siliguri district hospital and released after first-aid. One of the supporters of Silsharma filed a police complaint against Sarkar and Pal.

Trinamul faction fights over control of land and construction syndicates have been reported from several urban centres of Bengal such as Rajarhat, on the fringes of Calcutta, as well as Asansol and Durgapur.

This morning, over 100 supporters of Silsharma blocked the Eastern Bypass near Dhakeswari Kali Temple for nearly three hours to protest the assault.

“It was a planned attack. Pal had organised the attack out of jealousy and frustration. As ward 23 will be reserved for women candidates in the next civic polls, Pal cannot contest from there. The adjoining wards are also reserved and hence, shut to Pal. But Silsharma will contest and win again from ward 36. We are confident that Trinamul will secure majority at the SMC and Silsharma will be the next mayor,” said Ranjit Ghosh, a Trinamul worker of ward 36.

The road blockade was lifted around 12.15pm when T.A. Mitra, the assistant commissioner (east) of Siliguri metropolitan police, assured the protesters of Gobinda’s arrest.

“We have received a complaint and have been conducting raids to catch Gobinda Sarkar. We want to assure the demonstrators that he will be arrested in the next 72 hours,” Mitra said.