Calcutta, Sept. 22: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and state CPM secretary Anil Biswas today traded charges, blaming each other’s party for the renewed violence in West Midnapore’s Keshpur from early this morning.
Mamata claimed that the CPM activists of the area attacked Trinamul supporters as they were returning home after months.
“Our supporters were not being able to return to their villages over the past one year for fear of CPM attacks. Yesterday, there was an all-party meeting that decided that those who wanted to return home could do so. But as soon as they started for their villages, armed CPM activists attacked them. Several have been injured and some are missing,” she said.
Biswas gave a different version. About 100 armed and hooded outsiders, mostly belonging to Trinamul, split into four groups and attacked villages in the area in an attempt to capture them in a manner similar to 1998.
“Firearms and bombs were used indiscriminately. Five CPM workers were hurt in the attacks. One person is missing, feared abducted,” added Biswas.
“But alert villagers resisted the attacks and foiled Trinamul’s conspiracy. The CPM wishes them well,” said Biswas, adding: “‘Trinamul-Janajuddha zindabad’ slogans were raised during the attacks.”
Reacting sharply to Biswas’ allegation that Trinamul and the People’s War have joined hands, Mamata said it was an “utter lie”. “They (CPM) are the creators of the People’s War. It is the CPM which flooded the area with arms and distributed them freely to its cadre,” she added.
Apart from Keshpur, the Trinamul leader said, at least 10,000 of her party supporters were forced to flee their homes following attacks and threats by the CPM earlier in Garbeta, Pingla, Arambag, Goghat and Bankura. “The nightmare of these homeless people never seem to end. Many housewives, who earlier belonged to well-to-do farmers’ families, are now working as maids in other districts,” she added.
Police arrested 17 miscreants from the area, but many managed to escape. Biswas demanded that all those involved in the attacks should be brought to book. “This incident again proves that Trinamul does not want peace to prevail in Keshpur,” Biswas added.
Biswas also drew attention to the blast in a Trinamul leader’s residence at Panskura on Saturday afternoon, where, he said, “Trinamul miscreants from Pingla were involved”. He said reactionary forces were trying to unsettle the law and order situation in West Bengal. So, both the people and the state administration would have to be alert.
Biswas regretted that the one-and-a-half year of peace in Keshpur was shattered by the planned raids. Denying an intelligence failure, Biswas said security had been tightened in Keshpur. He was confident that 1998 would not be repeated as people are now more “politically conscious”.
When told that Mamata had denied Trinamul involvement in the attacks, Biswas said Mamata should keep herself more updated on her party as the arrested persons had admitted their Trinamul affiliation.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose criticised the attacks as “nothing but desperate attempts” to recapture power in Keshpur.
Sharply criticising Trinamul, Forward Bloc state secretary Ashoke Ghosh said anti-Left and reactionary forces were out to create panic in the minds of the people before the festive season. “The people should be more conscious politically. It is difficult to stop this kind of problem merely with the help of administration,” he added.
Reacting to the Trinamul demand that financial emergency be declared in West Bengal and the Left Front government be dismissed, Biswas claimed that 22 state governments, including the Central government, should first be dismissed as financial crisis elsewhere in the country is much worse.