Calcutta, May 2: The Congress leadership today reacted positively to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s appeal for a joint meeting in Chopra to bring back normality in the area before the May 11 panchayat poll.
Bhattacharjee today got in touch with state Congress leader and MLA Somen Mitra over telephone and urged him to rush to Chopra as the situation in the north Bengal town was fast deteriorating.
Eight persons have died in the area since Wednesday following clashes between supporters of the CPM and the Congress after the murder of Akbar Ali, a CPM leader. Three Congressmen were killed when CPM cadre retaliated after Ali’s death. Three CPM activists were killed when police fired to quell clashing mobs.
After the call from Bhattacharjee, Mitra consulted senior Congress leaders and decided that a three-member team will go to Chopra. Mitra led the Congress delegation when it left for Chopra tonight.
Bhattacharjee told newspersons at Writers’ Buildings today that he “requested” Mitra this morning “to go to Chopra immediately and hold a joint meeting with our party leaders there to bring back normality. Urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya is already there and working hard to bring back normality”.
Bhattacharjee added that environment minister Manab Mukherjee has also left for Chopra to help ease the tension there.
Asked what exactly happened there, Bhattacharjee said he was expecting a detailed report from senior police officers who went to the spot.
The state Congress leadership today demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident. Party general secretary Pradip Bhattacharjee said only a judicial probe could unearth what exactly happened there.
The CPM, however, ruled out the Congress demand. State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said an administrative inquiry was enough to bring the culprits to book. “We have confidence in our government and we don’t think a judicial probe is necessary to find out the truth,” he said.
Biswas said the CPM has already demanded a “high-power inquiry” from the state government.
“Killing of our popular leader, Ali, and the consequent deaths of three of our party activists in police firing has created a mass fury in the locality, as a result of which four Congress activists were killed,” he said, before adding: “All such deaths are unfortunate.”
Biswas urged the CPM cadre not to resort to any violence or become vengeful, though “CPM activists are being killed in different parts of the state”.
“Don’t react to any provocation as the Trinamul Congress, the Congress and the BJP will make serious attempts to provoke you by different means,” Biswas warned.
CPM politburo member and Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “The police are saying they (the slain CPM cadre) were attacked by an angry mob armed with sophisticated weapons after Akbar Ali was killed by Congress activists on Wednesday. We want to know clearly whether the police were really attacked by an armed gang or they fired on our activists without provocation.
“We also want to know the political affiliations of those armed people who had attacked the police after the murder of our party leader.”