Congress workers in Purulia’s Jhalda, along with Purnima Kandu, the wife of slain party councillor Tapan Kandu, and police engaged in a scuffle when the law enforcers stopped the party’s rally in front of Jhalda municipality building where the new civic board was formed on Tuesday.
Congress workers alleged the administration hurriedly formed the civic board on Tuesday, a day after Calcutta High Court ordered the CBI to probe the murder of Tapan. The CBI is likely to begin its probe from Wednesday.
“Now it is clear to all that my husband was murdered by Trinamul to take control of the civic board. He refused to join Trinamul despite constant intimidation by the police and Trinamul workers,” alleged Purnima, also a Congress councillor.
Trinamul formed the board unopposed at the 12-member Jhalda municipality with support of seven councillors, five from Trinamul and two Independents. Suresh Agarwal became the chairman.
“The administration at the behest of the ruling party hurriedly issued the order to form the civic board, which was on hold after the murder of our party councillor. They feared getting arrested by the CBI and so formed the board with the help of administration,” alleged Nepal Mahato, Congress chief in Purulia.
Though Congress councillors, including Purnima, took oath on Tuesday, the party did not take part in the formation of the board and refused to acknowledge it. The Congress observed a Black Day at Jhalda block in protest. Congress workers led by Mahato broke police barricades in front of the municipality office, leading to a scuffle.
Jhalda SDO Ritam Jha said the board was not formed in a hurry but under the norms of the West Bengal Municipality Act that says a a board must be formed within 30 days of the gazette notification of the state poll commission. Here, the commission issued the notification on March 8, Jha said.
At the Jhalda municipal polls held in February, the Congress bagged five councillors, including Tapan and Purnima. Trinamul won in five wards and Independents in two, which is why the Congress has been alleging that Trinamul needed numbers to make the civic board.
Tapan was shot dead by three motorcycle-borne assailants when he and his Purnima were taking a stroll near their home in Jhalda on March 13.
The new civic body chairman, Suresh Agarwal, is also named in the FIR by Purnima following Tapan's murder. “Anyone can lodge complaints against anyone. Let the CBI probe the matter,” Agarwal said.
The Congress has given the call for a 12-hour bandh in the region on Wednesday, Mahato said.
Tapan’s nephew Mithun said the entire family was spending sleepless nights as they feared Trinamul-backed goons might kill them.