The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM speaks in 2 voices on Lohar

Dalgaon (Jalpaiguri), Nov. 8: The CPM is speaking in two voices on the status of arrested union leader Tarakeswar Lohar, the target of Thursday’s mob fury that resulted in the death of 19 tea garden workers.

Zonal committee leaders said Lohar — charged with attempted murder and possession of arms after a bullet was allegedly fired from his house, triggering the violence — was merely removed from the post of Citu local committee secretary and not expelled from the party.

“We have no information about his so-called expulsion. He has been quite active in the tea gardens,” zonal committee secretary Robin Roy said. “I was at Lohar’s place even an hour before the attack took place. I have advised him to remain calm under all provocation.”

But the district leadership insisted that Lohar was expelled almost two years ago.

Jalpaiguri district secretary Manik Sanyal said Lohar was expelled from the CPM and Citu, its trade union wing, for anti-party activities.

Former minister and zilla parishad sabhadhipati Banamali Roy, who visited the affected area today, supported Sanyal. “I fail to understand how Lohar could continue to wield influence at the tea estate even after he was expelled following serious corruption charges. We have decided not to shield him.”

But RSP leader and former minister Monohar Tirke said Lohar was a terror but none could touch him. “ Was it possible except support from the CPM'”

The samples of the charred bodies have been sent to Calcutta for DNA tests. Police said the identification of the victims could not be confirmed without the tests.

In the state capital, the CPM leadership refused to make any comment, saying they are awaiting a report from state secretariat member Mridul De, who has been sent to the spot for an inquiry.

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