The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM gives massacre a miss at Citu meet
- Buddha in carnage belt

Naxalbari, Nov. 16: From advising the Centre on the tea business to talking tough on militancy, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee touched upon virtually every issue concerning north Bengal. Except the Dalgaon massacre.

For the 20 minutes that he spoke at the inaugural programme of the fourth Darjeeling district conference of Citu, the labour arm of the CPM, Bhattacharjee found no time to even mention the November 6 flare-up in which 19 people were charred to death in a chilling turn to a recruitment row in the tea estate.

All those killed were holed up inside the house of Tarakeshwar Lohar, a former Citu leader who led an “action group” which, estate workers alleged, was involved in extortion. The simmering tension over whether outsiders should be offered jobs snowballed when a mob of several hundred people attacked Lohar’s house and set it afire.

The CPM, which has been at pains to distance itself from Lohar, now says he is a “criminal”.

But Bhattacharjee made no reference to the carnage, the alleged fallout of faction rivalry dogging Citu. At the end of the programme, even senior CPM leaders were seen talking among themselves, trying to figure out why the chief minister bypassed the massacre and the role of a section of the Citu leadership.

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