The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fresh flare-up breaks North Dinajpur lull

Raiganj, May 6: As the Congress threatened to withdraw its panchayat candidates from Chopra, fresh violence broke out in Raiganj and Islampur blocks of North Dinajpur last night.

At least four CPM and five Congress workers were injured in two separate clashes at Elenga village in Raiganj, police said. In another incident, two houses, belonging to a Congress and a CPM supporter, were burnt down at Moulani village in Islampur. The village had hit the headlines last week when CPM activists made the Congress supporters hoist red flags in front of their houses.

The fresh clashes broke a lull in the violence raging in the north Bengal district since Wednesday, when a group of alleged Congress workers killed CPM leader Akbar Ali. Three more CPM activists died in police firing. In revenge attacks, CPM workers killed four elderly Congress supporters in Islampur the next day.

Nearly 3,000 Congress activists — among them the party’s panchayat candidates — demonstrated at the subdivisional officer’s office in Chopra today, demanding security.

The demonstrators included those who had fled their homes in the face of attacks by CPM workers. They said they were unable to return home for fear of their lives.

Congress district general secretary Gautam Gupta said they had issued an ultimatum to the administration. “They must visit the affected villages and ensure safety for our workers within two days. If they don’t, we will consider withdrawing all our candidates from Chopra,” he said.

The CPM observed today as “Shok Divas” to condole the deaths of four party activists in Chopra. At Lalbazar, where Ali was killed, municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya, also the MLA from Siliguri, unveiled four plaques in front of the CPM office in memory of the partymen.

Addressing a crowd of CPM workers, Aleya Khatun, Ali’s wife, said she wanted an end to the raging violence. “You respond to the killing of my husband through your votes,” she said in her brief speech.

Police said some Congress workers tossed bombs at the CPM activists attending a meeting at the home of Mohammed Mokimuddin at Elenga village last night, wounding four partymen. Two of them, Israil Ali and Khalimal Haque, were admitted to Raiganj Hospital with splinter wounds. Soon after, CPM workers attacked a Congress street-corner meeting in the same village, leaving five workers injured.

Blast death

A RSP supporter was killed and a CPM worker seriously injured in a blast at Jyotishpur in Basanti, South 24-Parganas, this evening. Police identified the dead as Subhahsh Sardar, 26.

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