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Rezzak falls victim in party-office attack

Bhangar, July 10: Former CPM minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah today claimed to have had a gun pointed at his head when 60-70 alleged Trinamul Congress activists attacked a CPM office in South 24-Parganas.

Mollah, an MLA, said he had to duck to avoid sticks aimed at his head during the assault on the Bhangar zonal committee II office during a Krishak Sabha convention attended by several dozen farmers.

The 12.30pm incident appeared a consequence of a CPM-Trinamul turf war ahead of next year’s rural polls. CPM sources said the former land reforms minister, the biggest CPM leader to be physically attacked since the Left lost power, was the main hurdle to Trinamul’s progress in the district.

The attack comes within days of Union home minister P. Chidambaram criticising the continuing “culture of violence” in Bengal politics, a charge furiously denied by the Mamata Banerjee government.

“They tried to beat me up with sticks. They held a revolver to my head,” Mollah said. “They said, ‘You cannot hold any meeting before the panchayat polls in this area without (former Trinamul MLA) Arabul Islam’s permission’. I somehow managed to run to another party office nearby with my party colleagues.”

Mollah has named five Trinamul activists in his police complaint.

Trinamul minister Subrata Mukherjee said local people, “with some Trinamul supporters”, had pushed and heckled CPM leaders, angered by Rezzak’s constant criticism of the government and Mamata. “Nothing of the sort being claimed by Rezzak happened; Arabul was not involved.”

Arabul, who recently made headlines by hitting a lady teacher with a jug he sent flying in anger at a college meeting, too denied any role.

Bhangar resident Abu Samad Lashkar, however, said the attackers had come from a nearby rally after Arabul told the meeting not to cede an inch to the CPM in the rural polls.

“I saw Trinamul men coming towards the CPM office, brandishing sticks. A little later, I heard the sound of bombs.”

CPM leaders said bombs went off outside the party office, causing them to step out. A mob immediately rushed towards Mollah and local comrade Tushar Ghosh.

After Mollah dodged three swings of the attackers’ sticks, a man fired in the air and asked him to get into his car, Ghosh said. “I told them, ‘Let the driver come’,” Mollah said, “but they wanted me to leave immediately.”

Mollah and his colleagues fled towards the Bhangar zonal committee I office, a five-minute walk away. The attackers went on a rampage at the zonal committee II office, mangling the 50-odd plastic chairs, six tables and 10 ceiling fans and damaging motorbikes. Windowpanes, light bulbs, jugs and spectacles lay smashed.

“This party (Trinamul) doesn’t have any qualms about attacking anybody, worker or former minister,” leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

Neither has the CPM balked at attacking Mamata, who was hit on the head with a metal rod during a procession on a Calcutta street in 1991.

Trinamul and the CPM have been fighting for control of South 24-Parganas, with Canning, Bhangar, Diamond Harbour and Baruipur witnessing about a dozen clashes.

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