Two killed in CPM-Trinamul turf battle Rivals fight for control of Khejuri

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  • Published 23.09.10

Tamluk, Sept. 22: Two people were killed in a clash between the CPM and the Trinamul Congress in an East Midnapore village today over the control of Khejuri as police struggled to reach the battle zone because most approach roads had been dug up or blocked with logs.

Preliminary investigations revealed that around 500 rounds were fired and at least 100 bombs hurled. CPM supporter Madhusudan Hajra, 42, and Trinamul activist Niladri Maity, 35, were killed in the clash in Sunia, the police said.

Trinamul leaders in Sunia claimed tension had been brewing in the area over the past month as the CPM had been trying to “reclaim” Khejuri, across the Rasulpur river. The local administration had clamped Section 144 on Sunia and eight nearby villages a few days ago. Police camps had also been set up in Sunia and Khejuri.

Sunia and the eight villages are CPM strongholds although Trinamul won the local gram panchayat and the panchayat samiti in 2008.

The Trinamul leaders alleged that the CPM had been “sheltering armed cadres” from outside to launch an attack on Khejuri, which too the CPM had lost to Trinamul in the rural polls. Many CPM supporters had fled from Khejuri and Nandigram after Trinamul swept the rural polls.

At 4 this morning, Trinamul supporters in Sunia saw around 30 CPM cadres armed with revolvers and pipeguns assembling on the banks of the Rasulpur river.

“Immediately, we alerted our workers in Sonberia (about 3km from Sunia) and Khejuri across the river,” a local Trinamul leader said.

The police said around 3,000 Trinamul supporters lined the banks of the river on the Khejuri side while more than 100 armed Trinamul men in Sunia surrounded the CPM men, firing shots.

“The CPM activists retaliated. The clash continued for around two hours,” a police officer said.

Villagers said that after the clash began, some Trinamul supporters blocked one of the approach roads to Sunia with logs and dug up two other metalled roads to stop the police from entering the village.

The district secretary of Trinamul, Mahmud Hossain, said the CPM cadres tried to “take control of Nandigram and Khejuri”. He added: “But local people forced the CPM cadres to retreat.”

Usharani Giri, 45, a housewife, said the villagers had gone to the police camp in Sunia to inform the personnel about the clash. “However, the 10 policemen there locked the camp doors from inside and refused to come out,” Giri said.

The 10 cops called up Contai police station and requested them to send reinforcements. But the team from Contai had to take a detour to reach Sunia by foot as the approach roads had been blocked or dug up. They reached the spot around 8am, an hour after the clash stopped.

A relative of Hajra, who was hit in the chest, claimed that the CPM supporter had gone to the river for fishing and was caught in the crossfire. The police said Trinamul supporter Maity, whose body was found in a field, was a resident of Itaberia village, 40km from Sunia.

District superintendent of police Ashok Biswas said seven Trinamul supporters had been arrested.

The CPM has called a 12-hour bandh in Contai town and four of its neighbouring blocks tomorrow.