| The wife of the dead CPM supporter on Thursday. Picture by Amit Datta
Barrackpore, Nov. 13: Eighteen people, all CPM supporters, were behind bars today for the clash between party factions in Kanchrapara last night.
Niranjan Sarkar, known as Niru at Bijpur in North 24-Parganas, about 50 km from Calcutta, was shot dead and five houses, including that of the local committee secretary of the CPM, were torched. Ten people were injured, four of them policemen.
More than a dozen shops were set on fire, additional superintendent of police K. Jayaraman said today. “The damage was extensive.”
“Most of the injured were released after first-aid but two women — the wife and 70-year-old mother of Toru Pramanik, a member of the DYFI’s Bijpur committee — had to be admitted to Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Kalyani with serious burn injuries. Pramanik’s mother also suffered a fracture in the leg when she tried to prevent miscreants from entering her house and setting it ablaze,” an official of the local police station said.
Trouble broke out last evening after Niru, an active CPM supporter, was shot dead. As the news spread, armed miscreants stormed the house of party local committee secretary Radhaballav Roy. The mob armed with swords and daggers surrounded the house and asked his family members to hand over Niru’s killers, who had allegedly taken shelter inside.
“Roy was at a meeting in Halisahar. His wife and children did not dare step out. As no one responded, they locked the main door and set it ablaze,” said Snigdha Roy, a neighbour.
The police today recovered a jerrycan containing 30 litres of petrol.
“The neighbours rescued Roy’s wife, sons and nephew. He was returning home when he heard that his house was under attack. Not knowing that his relatives were rescued, he tried to break open the door and was injured,” said an officer of Bijpur.
Roy, who took shelter in the local police station last night, lodged a complaint this morning and handed over a list of 13 people identified by neighbours as the attackers.
A party source said Niru was getting very popular in the area. “A section of senior district CPM leaders did not like that. So they planned to get rid of him and appointed local criminals for the job. They had chalked out the operation well and as soon as the news of Niru’s death spread, the blame was put on the rival faction. Radhaballav was the scapegoat,” a party insider alleged. “Niru owned a bheri (fishery) and was making good profits. His rivals in the party wanted to take control of it,” he added.
Residents put up a roadblock this morning to protest against last evening’s lawlessness. CPM legislator from Bijpur Jagadish Das and district leader Amitava Nandi, who were here today, ran into it.