The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blood of old flows in mission wipeout Cong

Chopra, May 2: Enraged at the killing of four party colleagues, avenging CPM supporters slaughtered four elderly Congress activists in three villages of North Dinajpur district.

In the afterwash of the murder of Akbar Ali, a local CPM leader, on Wednesday, the Congress is being wiped clean in this corner of north Bengal near the Bangladesh border.

Scores of Congress supporters have fled their villages following the revenge murders, all of which took place yesterday in three villages in a radius of 12-13 km from here.

Rampaging CPM supporters torched at least 22 houses at Gandagach village, where Abdul Haque, a 60-year-old Congress supporter, was hacked to death.

Of the other three killed, two were in their sixties and the third in his fifties. While Sheikh Amijuddin, 52, was killed in his house at Khalpara village, Nurul Islam, 65, and Najrul Hussein, 62, were hacked to death at Dangibustee — all under Chopra police station.

Angry CPM supporters tore down Congress posters and banners and “took over” several Congress offices. Congress offices set up for the coming panchayat polls have virtually disappeared from view.

The body of Akbar Ali, who died in a Congress attack on the CPM party office here, was brought to his home under police escort early yesterday.

Thousands of CPM supporters waving party flags thronged the Amtala graveyard, where Ali was laid to rest yesterday morning. “Death to Congress,” many of them yelled.

The CPM office, where Ali was attacked, was deserted, with tables and chairs upturned and the door ajar.

A short distance away, in front of a police outpost lay a burnt-down Maruti car and a motorcycle — testament to Wednesday’s violence. Three CPM supporters were killed here when a mob tried to snatch from the police Congress activists arrested for Ali’s murder.

A nearby shop run by Binod Biswas, a Congress member, was burnt down, too.

A policeman said the car belonged to Hamidoor Rahman, the arrested Congress MLA from Chopra, who was the target of the mob that day. Failing to lay its hand on Rahman, it set his car afire.

Habibul Haque, a Congress supporter from the border village of Gandagach, said some 60 CPM supporters — armed with staves, sickles and scimitars — raided his village around 10 am yesterday.

Haque said: “ ‘Kill them, kill them,’ the mob was shouting when it broke down the door of our house. I tried to run away through a rear door, but they chased and grabbed me and hit me with a sickle.”

The man, in his twenties, managed to break free and ran towards the unguarded border. “I crossed into Bangladesh and hid in the paddy fields for several hours,” he said.

When he returned home, he found his father Abdul lying on the floor, lifeless. His throat was slit. Haque fled home almost instantly and took shelter at Chopra police station.

Most Congress supporters from his village had fled, too. “It was deserted when I came back, before fleeing again.”

CPM supporters made no secret of the fact that they have seized several Congress offices. “It was a Congress election office, but it now belongs to us,” Nirmal Biswas, one of them, said, pointing to an empty room in an one-storey house at Lalbazar.

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