Behrampore, Nov. 10: Sus- pected Congress supporters hacked a CPM leader to death last night at Bilaspur village in Murshidabad, triggering a spell of fury in which several houses were attacked.
Abdus Samad Mondal, a branch committee secretary of the CPM, was returning home ' in the Domkol area, about 240 km from Calcutta ' last night when he was surrounded by seven-eight men armed with choppers and scythes.
Local people took the 52-year-old leader to the Behrampore general hospital, where he died after making a statement before police officers.
Fourteen Congress supporters were arrested.
As the news spread, CPM cadre attacked at least a dozen houses of Congress supporters in the village ' a CPM stronghold and home town of animal resources development minister Anisur Rahman, who reached Bilaspur today.
Over 100 CPM activists armed with rods and bamboo sticks ransacked the houses and decamped with cattle and household articles after beating up the men.
All families supporting the Congress fled the village during the night.
The police reached the village around 9 pm, an hour after the murder. But witnesses alleged that they remained inactive as the CPM supporters marched towards the houses of the Congress workers.
A bigger team led by dist-rict superintendent of police N.K. Singh reached the village after the retaliatory attack.
'We were scared at the sight. The CPM workers broke our door open, smashed furniture, beat us up and looted our belongings,' said Sadeeq Sheikh, a trader of grass mats.
Houses of other Congress supporters such as Ajibul Sheikh and Ejahar Sheikh were also looted. 'We'll have to start life from scratch,' said Ajibul.
Singh said preliminary investigations had revealed that Mondal, who was also the librarian of the government-run Janakalyan Samiti Library at Domkol, was murdered for political reasons. 'We have taken a dying declaration from the CPM leader. We conducted raids through the night and arrested 14 people, all of whom are either Congress workers or supporters,' he added.
The minister said: 'Mondal was vocal against anti-social activities in the area and had been the target of Congress-backed goons.'
The local Congress leadership, however, said the murder was a sequel to CPM infighting. 'Abdus Samad had links with cattle smugglers and there might have been a feud over the sharing of money,' said Shaoni Singha Roy, the party's Domkol block president.