The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police vanish, residents flee home in fear

Khanakul, Nov. 3: Khanakul villagers who had braved the raid by an armed gang yesterday morning fled home after police last night pulled out personnel posted there only a few hours ago.

The picket had been set up after the residents of Kantapukur and Ishanpara said they were feeling insecure. But when the authorities decided to withdraw it, no one bothered to enquire whether a sense of security had returned.

Alleged CPM activists armed with guns shot at Trinamul Congress supporters and looted and ransacked nearly 27 houses yesterday morning, in a bid to regain control of lost turf. A policeman was also among those who took bullets.

The policemen were in a van on the road leading to the two villages. “They told us around midnight they were going to have their dinner. But they never returned,” said Sheikh Sarafuddin, 30.

As the word spread, villagers started packing. By 10.30 this morning, about 400 families out of the 680 in the two villages had left.

In some houses, only the women were sent away. The gang that terrorised the area yesterday had molested one of its women.

Sheikh Zaid, 29, a zari worker, said he had sent his widowed mother, wife and sister to relatives’ houses. “My mother and sister have gone to my aunt and my wife to her father. I decided to stay because my younger brother works in a grocery in Arambagh town (25km away) and travels there daily,” said Zaid.

The police said the personnel were withdrawn because they had to be deployed elsewhere.

Around 3pm today, a team of six was sent to Khanakul. “But we can’t afford to keep them all night. We will have to withdraw the force tonight as well for deployment in Arambagh, where Mamata Banerjee will hold a rally tomorrow,” said an officer.

Farmer Saidul Islam, 70, lamented that no one really cared for their lives. “We are left at the mercy of Allah.”

At Balipur, about 25km away, alleged CPM supporters last night marched to the house of Trinamul activist Tapan Malik, 32, dragged him out and beat him up. Tapan has been hospitalised.

“He had been mobilising supporters for Mamata’s Arambagh rally. The CPM goons targeted him so that no one from Balipur attended the meeting,” said Sailen Sinha, a Trinamul leader from Khanakul.

Shot at

Trinamul supporter Barun Khan, 29, was shot at during a clash with CPM supporters in Khanakul’s Sarada village, 7km from Kantapukur, on Tuesday evening. Barun is in hospital.

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