The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja for prosperity turns fatal for politics

Midnapore, Oct. 16: A Trinamul Congress leader was beaten to death last night allegedly by his relatives, all CPM supporters, following an altercation over the selection of invitees to their Lakshmi Puja in a West Midnapore village.

Six persons, all relatives of 59-year-old Manimohan Chakraborty, were arrested this morning in connection with the murder.

Police said the Chakraborty household's Lakshmi Puja ' said to be about 150 years old ' is famous at Kultikri village in Daspur, about 130 km from Calcutta.

Three brothers took turns to organise the puja. This year, it was the turn of Manimohan, a teacher at Ghatal Paschim Patna Primary School.

'As a result of their polit- ical rivalry, Panchugopal and Santosh (the two other brothers, both well-to-do farmers) were at loggerheads with Manimohan. But despite their differences, they had always drawn up the list of invitees toge-ther,' a police officer said.

About 250 people are invited every year to the Chakra- bortys' sprawling house for a lunch on the occasion of Lak-shmi Puja. The guests are served khichudi bhog along with an assortment of fried vegetables and payesh.

In the complaint Manimohan's son Sitangshu lodged with the police, he said his uncles demanded the inclusion of a number of people of their choice in the list last night.

'An altercation ensued and members of the brothers' families attacked Manimohan. They beat him up with bamboo poles. Sitangshu said his cousin Santanu, son of Panchugopal, led the mob,' the police officer said.

Santanu, a CPM whole- timer, is a member of the West Midnapore zilla parishad in charge of fisheries.

Santanu was among those arrested today, along with five other cousins ' Tapas, Nandadulal, Aruprasad, Durgaprasad and Shyamaprasad.

The local CPM leadership said the charges against Santanu were baseless and politically motivated.

'He is a responsible member of our party. Last night, he went to the spot to prevent the mob attack on Manimohan. He died of a heart attack,' said Sunil Adhikary, the secretary of the party's Daspur zonal committee.

Local Trinamul MLA Ajit Bhunia, however, said Manimohan's family was regularly threatened by his CPM-supporter relatives.

As the news of Manimohan's death spread, hundreds of Trinamul supporters laid siege to the body and demanded 'immediate police action'.

West Midnapore superintendent of police Ajay Nanda said: 'We will be able tell the exact cause of the death only after getting the post-mortem report.'

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