Calcutta, Nov. 6: The CPM leadership described the Falakata flare-up as an “isolated” incident, saying the reports ascribing the deaths to infighting in the local Citu unit were baseless.
“There is no politics in the incident. We also don’t think it is the outcome of any intra-party rivalry,” CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta.
Rather, the CPM leader said, the violence was the outcome of a clash between Citu workers and a section of tea garden employees and their families. He also suspected involvement of local hoodlums.
“There has been a spurt in anti-social activities in the garden for quite some time which the Citu workers resisted. Besides, some employees raised a demand that any recruitment in the garden must be from their families and this was also resisted by the Citu workers,” he said.
Biswas added that he had received the preliminary report from the Jalpaiguri party unit, which said trouble broke out over recruitment of some employees in the estate.
“Some employees of the garden, along with their family members and other relatives, attacked the union office and set it on fire. As a result, 19 Citu workers were burnt alive,” he said.
Biswas said Mridul De, on behalf of the state secretariat, had been asked to rush to Jalpaiguri on Friday morning to assess the situation. He said De would submit a report to the party after visiting the area and speaking to all concerned.
Rejecting the Trinamul Congress’ demand for a CBI probe, Biswas said the state administration was equipped to conduct the inquiry. “We demand that the administration should take stern action against those involved in the incident.”
As news of the incident reached Alimuddin Street, the state leadership made frantic attempts to contact the Jalpaiguri party unit to get the details. Biswas later spoke to Manik Sanyal, the president of the Cha Bagan Mazdoor Union and also the district CPM chief, to confirm the information.
The state Citu leadership held a meeting at Shramik Bhavan in the evening to assess the situation.
“I could not believe my ears. How can so many people die in such a gruesome manner over the issue of appointment of only a few employees,” he said.
“There is no question of any infighting in the Citu. The unexpected incident is the outcome of a friction between the Citu and some people with vested interests,” said Sanyal.