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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

Birbhum massacre exposes Trinamul underbelly

Squabble over spoils of illegal sand and stone trade divides party

Pranesh Sarkar And Snehamoy Chakraborty Bolpur(Birbhum) Published 23.03.22, 02:39 AM
Anubrata Mondal

Anubrata Mondal File Picture

The carnage at Bogtui near Rampurhat is a classic example of all that ails the Trinamul Congress in Bengal, especially in Birbhum, a district that has been virtually under the sway of the ruling party under the leadership of Anubrata Mondal.

The massacre of eight persons was apparently in retaliation for the murder of Bhadu Seikh, 45, who was the deputy chief of Trinamul-run Barshal gram panchayat.

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Bhadu apparently controlled illegal sand and stone business in the area that had given him near absolute clout over the political affairs in this dusty corner of Bengal.

“Bhadu’s rise in local politics was meteoric. Everyone knew how his fortune through illegal sand and stone business grew in the past few years.... These two factors were the primary reasons behind his enmity with other groups in our party as there is virtually no Opposition in the area,” said a Trinamul leader.

Most local people said the massacre had occurred as a result of the murder of Bhadu, who was the undisputed Trinamul leader in the area. But police didn’t confirm it.

A source said most of the 11 people arrested in connection with the carnage are close aides and relatives of Bhadu.

“This entire incident tells how the rise of a local satrap creates unrest in the ruling party in an otherwise backward area, where livelihood options are limited,” said a senior state government official, who has worked in the region for more than five years.

A district Trinamul leader said on condition of anonymity that Bhadu was a day wage earner before he joined Trinamul after the change of guard in Bengal.

“Soon, he became so powerful that every truck carrying stone chips and sand from the area needed clearance from him. As Bhadu started minting money through these irregular trades, he became close to the party leadership in Birbhum,” said the leader.

The rise of Bhadu in the party was evident in the recent municipal polls as he allegedly played an important role behind Trinamul’s win at Rampurhat without much resistance from Opposition parties.

In Rampurhat, Trinamul won five of 18 wards uncontested as all Opposition candidates had withdrawn their nominations amid allegations of intimidation by Bhadu and his team. “I went into hiding after Bhadu had threatened me with dire consequences after I had filed nomination papers. Bhadu was the strongman behind Trinamul’s uncontested win,” said Sahajada Hossain Kinu, the Congress candidate from ward 14.

According to sources, the strongest group in Trinamul that had rivalry with Bhadu was led by Sanju Seikh, from whose house seven charred bodies were recovered.

Sona Sheikh and Palash Sheikh alias Chhoto Lalon — who were named in the FIR on Bhadu’s murder — are all known Trinamul activists. They had a rivalry with Bhadu in the past few years allegedly over spoils of illegal trade in the area.

The rivalry between Bhadu and the other group was so nasty that Bhadu’s brother was also murdered about a year ago. Family members of Bhadu were seen preparing to leave the village on Tuesday evening apprehending counter-attack from the rival group.

“Mainly, the family members of the accused behind the murder of Bhadu were charred to death and the accused had fled.… Now they will seek revenge. This is why Bhadu’s family members are leaving the village,” said a villager.

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