Bhimpur (Hooghly), Dec. 31: In a swift and well-planned operation, a group of men allegedly owing allegiance to the extremist Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) hacked to death a leader of the CPM’s youth wing here early today.
The incident sent shockwaves through local political circles as the assailants vanished into the night after strewing leaflets which proclaimed that Lakshmi Bagh, 28, had been given the “death sentence” for stifling the movement of landless peasants in the area. Bhimpur is about 55 km from Calcutta.
Bagh, a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India and a local youth Utpal Ghosh, 17, a motor mechanic, were sleeping in a two-room, tiled house in this village in the Jangipara police station area. At about 2.30 am, some men broke through the roof, waking up the duo who tried to escape through the door but found three persons waiting for them outside.
The two were pushed back into the room and Utpal was pulled to the ground and told by the attackers to remain quiet. Bagh was hit in the neck with sharp weapons.
“I was not in my senses for a while. When I came to I switched on the light and found the room flooded with blood, I saw Lakshmida lying on the ground,” Utpal recounted this afternoon standing near the spot.
All that Utpal remembered was the stricken man pleading for his life and the shrill blast of a whistle after which the attackers assembled and disappeared into the night.
Utpal went to Bagh’s father’s house and roused his other brothers and sisters who informed the police. “My brother was a very popular figure in the area and turned to everyone at their hour of need. Besides working for the party, he took private coaching classes and worked in our fields,” said the slain youth’s elder brother, Swapan.
When daylight broke, police and the villagers found hundreds of leaflets, announcing that Bagh had been given the “death sentence” and warned “exploiting” CPM leaders.
The Baghs are one of the most affluent landowners of the area and possess three houses and about 25 bighas of cultivable land.
The leaflet also contained the name of the CPM’s local committee member, Pabitra Singha Roy.
CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta Left extremist forces in connivance with the Opposition parties of Trinamul Congress, the Congress and the BJP were trying to create trouble before the panchayat elections scheduled for May.
He claimed that the Biplabi Krishak Committee (BKC) — the peasants’ wing of the MCC — had been seeking to disrupt an agreement signed between the CPM’s peasants’ wing and local landowners. Under the agreement, a farm labourer gets a daily wage of Rs 24 and two kg of rice for harvesting. The BKC had been demanding a higher wage. CPM leaders accuse Trinamul, the Congress and the BJP of supporting the outfit.
“Today’s killing is a pointer that ultra-Left forces are trying to create law and order problems in the state before the May panchayat polls,” Biswas added.
The superintendent of police, Ajoy Kumar, did not rule out the involvement of the MCC in the killing. “We have already detained five persons in connection with the murder and all five have links with the BKC.”
The CPM zonal secretary of Jangipara, Arup Basu Mallik, complained about police inaction. “There is a police camp in Bhimpur, but policemen there hesitated to rush to the spot immediately after the murder. They went only after senior police officers arrived, he said.