Rapid Action Force jawans at the spot in Labhpur where the blast took place on Monday. Nothing remains of the makeshift tent where the bombs were allegedly being made. Picture by Indrajit Roy
Bolpur, April 21: Two persons allegedly hired to make crude bombs ahead of the Lok Sabha polls were killed this afternoon when around 150 explosives went off in the house of a Birbhum Trinamul leader said to be close to party MLA Manirul Islam.
Police in Labhpur, which votes on April 30, said the blast could be heard about 3km away.
A Trinamul leader belonging to a rival faction of Manirul’s said that around eight people were “hired to make crude bombs for use during the Lok Sabha polls”.
Manirul denied the allegation that the dead youths were hired by Trinamul. “It could be the fallout of rivalry between local villagers,” he said.
Sheikh Ismail, in whose backyard the blast took place, was not found at home when the police raided it. His family refused to speak to the media.
Sources said Sheikh Ismail had quit the Forward Bloc and joined Trinamul along with Manirul in 2009.
“In the 2008 rural polls, the local Kusumgeria gram panchayat was with the Left. After Manirul Islam switched to Trinamul in 2009, many villagers, including Sheikh Ismail, followed him,” said a villager, requesting anonymity.
Later in the evening, Birbhum Trinamul president Anubrata Mondal denied that Sheikh Ismail was a Trinamul leader. “He is still with the Forward Bloc,” he said.
Forward Bloc district secretary Dipak Chatterjee termed Mondal’s comments “a joke”.
“After Manirul left the Bloc as the district committee member of the party, there was an exodus to Trinamul in Kusumgeria and its neighborhood. Sheikh Ismail switched along with him,” Chatterjee said.
According to sources, today’s was the first instance of blast deaths since the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls in early March.
Villagers who saw the afternoon blast said some local Trinamul workers carried on their shoulders six persons who lay bleeding in the backyard after the blast.
“They were removed to an undisclosed location. The Trinamul workers left behind the two bodies,” a villager said.
According to officers at Labhpur police station, no person with burn injuries had been admitted to any hospital in nearby Bolpur or Suri till late in the evening. The police added that they had found a damaged motorcycle from a nearby pond.
The dead persons have been identified as Burjahan Sheikh and Hasim Sheikh, both in their thirties.
“We have learnt that at least eight persons had come from outside last night to make bombs in a makeshift tent set up in the backyard of Sheikh Ismail’s house. We have already searched the ponds and different houses in the vicinity,” said a senior police officer of Bolpur.
The additional superintendent of police, Ananda Roy, and sub-divisional police officer S.P. Yadav visited the spot of the explosion later in the evening.
Asked about the intensity of the blast, a police officer said: “We have learnt that bombs were being made from last night till noon today. Our senior officers calculated the time taken for making one crude bomb and arrived at the conclusion that around 150 explosives would have been made in this time. The severity of the blast also proves that over 100 bombs must have been there. Nothing of the tent remained.”
Trinamul’s Bolpur candidate Anupam Hazra said his party was being wrongly blamed.
“All I can say is that those who were making the bombs did not belong to Trinamul," said Hazra.
CPM candidate and sitting MP Ram Chandra Dom said Trinamul was trying to create a “terror” like it had during last year’s panchayat polls.