The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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32 in net as turf war erupts

A part of Behala and Thakurpukur turned into a battlefield on Monday morning, following a clash between members of two bus employees’ unions affiliated to Citu and the Trinamul Congress. Fifteen men were injured, four of them critically. Later, 32 men, most of them identified as Citu activists, were arrested on charges of rioting.

A large posse of policemen, led by deputy superintendent of police (town) Humayun Kabir, went to the spot and resorted to a lathicharge to bring the situation under control.

Later, jawans of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) had to be summoned to disperse the violent union members.

According to police, the clash was a sequel to a long-standing dispute between members of the two unions over taking possession of a room.

“Trinamul activists had forcibly taken possession of a room in 1998 that was originally a Citu office. The Citu activists on Monday descended on the area and recaptured the room,” said an official of the Thakurpukur area.

Trouble started around 7 am, when a large number of Citu members assembled in front of the Bakultala bus depot. “They had, apparently, chalked out the plans on Sunday night. The local CPM leadership held a public meeting in front of the bus depot last night and hundreds of their supporters joined the programme,” said the official.

The Citu activists stormed the room, in which four Trinamul union members were sitting. “They dragged out the four youths and beat them up. The Trinamul members had no chance to escape or resist their attackers,” said the official.

The news of the attack reached the local Trinamul Congress party office, a stone’s throw away from the spot. “Soon, a few hundred Trinamul activists arrived and launched a counter-attack. Both the warring groups began to pelt stones at each other. Panic-stricken businessmen and traders of the area downed shutters and fled,” said another official of Thakurpukur police station.

The policemen, who were deployed there from Sunday night after the CPM’s meeting in front of Bakultala bus depot, could do little, as they were outnumbered.

Soon, they sought help from the police station. “Policemen have been posted there since last night, as we had been informed that Citu activists might attack Trinamul union members,” said the police official.

Initially, policemen who rushed to the spot found it difficult to control the warring party activists. “We then informed the headquarters and told them to send RAF personnel as soon as possible. Police later chased the supporters and arrested 32 of them.

Policemen were posted in the area and were asked to keep a close eye on the situation. “We will not allow any meeting or gathering in the area today. There is a clear directive that if either the Citu or the Trinamul Congress try to hold meetings, disperse them,” said a senior police official.

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