The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Women stripped over property, politics follows

Barasat, Dec. 7: Two women were stripped over a property dispute in North 24-Parganas this morning.

Trouble began at Chatkaberia village, about 50 km from the city, on Saturday evening when Alauddin Ali and Sougat Ali went to the house of Shahjahan Dhali to settle a dispute dogging them for the past 25 years.

The Ali brothers owed their allegiance to the Congress while Dhali was a CPM supporter.

“This morning, Dhali went to the Alis’ when none of the male members were at home and threatened to harass the wives of Alauddin and Sougat. As the women protested, goons hired by Shahjahan, who had accompanied him to the house, tore their sarees. The goons left after the women raised alarm but warned them of dire consequences if they spoke to anyone about their presence,” said an officer of Deganga police station.

Dhali apparently wanted to negotiate the dispute with the women in the presence of the goons. The women, the officer said, wanted their husbands back home before the talks began. The goons did not like the suggestion and sprang into action. While stripping the women, the goons reportedly said they were being taught a “lesson”.

Sougat and Alauddin returned moments after Dhali and his hired goons had left the house. Learning about what had happened, they first got in touch with the Congress leaders of the area.

About 60 Congress activists rushed to Dhali’s house accompanied by the brothers. Dhali was at home. So were the goons he had hired.

A war of words led to a scuffle in no time. Revolvers were whipped out and Dhali’s goons fired in the air and ran towards the Alis’ threatening to kill the women for informing their husbands about the molestation.

About a dozen bombs were hurled at the house and the village turned into a battlefield as supporters of both parties fought. Four people were injured.

Swapan Purnapatra, an additional superintendent of police, said: “A large contingent of police was sent.” A picket has been set up at Chatkaberia.

The district CPM admitted that Dhali was a partyman but blamed the Congress for provoking tension. “Dhali is an activist of our party. Some Congress supporters beat his family members over a property dispute. Later, he had to use force against the Congress goons to save himself,” said Amitava Basu, the district secretary of the CPM.

Four persons, including supporters of both parties, were arrested from Deganga this evening, the police said.

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