| The CPM office at Nabahat after the rampage. Picture by Dipankar Chatterjee
Burdwan/Khargram, Oct. 7: The ration rage sweeping south Bengal turned on the CPM today with mobs who attacked dealers also torching a party office in Burdwan and beating up an MLA and other leaders.
Armed looters burnt down at least half-a-dozen ration shops and dealers’ homes in two districts, with police firing eight rounds in Sherpur, a Murshidabad village 250km from Calcutta.
The attack on the CPM came in the party stronghold of Nababhat, 1km from Burdwan town, where MLA Pradip Tah, zonal committee secretary Kamal Gayen and others were dragged from a meeting and thrashed.
In what seemed an outpouring of pent-up anger against the party, the mob shouted slogans against the “nexus” between the CPM and “corrupt” ration dealers.
The violence was almost a repeat of the first eruption of ration rage on September 16, when villagers attacked CPM leaders at a nuclear-deal protest in Bankura’s Radhamohanpur, another party bastion.
After today’s incident, more than 5,000 CPM supporters, carrying swords, sticks, spears and red flags, held protest marches through Nabahat.
The party’s Burdwan secretary, Amal Haldar, declined to give the violence a political colour.
“Those who attacked the dealer’s house were criminals. The dealer is a Trinamul Congress supporter but our leaders were going to his house to protect him when our party office was attacked.”
State CPM secretary Biman Bose said: “Those who want to destroy the public distribution system in Bengal are behind the violence.”