South 24-Parganas: Three TMC workers waylaid and murdered
A six-member gang waylaid three motorcycle-borne Trinamul Congress workers and killed them near Canning in South 24-Parganas on Thursday when the trio were on the way to a preparatory meeting for the party’s July 21 Martyrs’ Day event in Calcutta.
The deceased were Gopalpur gram panchayat member Swapan Ghosh and Trinamul’s booth committee chiefs Bhutnath Pramanik and Jhantu Halder.
The three were travelling on a motorcycle when they were stopped near Kochua Pear Park at Gopalpur by a group of six goons. All the three were shot from close quarters and then their throats slit.
Pramanik and Halder tried to escape despite grievous injuries, but the criminals chased the duo and hacked them to death in a field by the road.
The incident took place around 9am, barely a kilometer from a Trinamul office.
With Thursday’s murders, at least five local Trinamul leaders were killed in Canning alone in the past eight months, prompting questions regarding the law and order in the district.
Trinamul’s Canning West MLA Paresh Ram Das expressed concern over his own security after the murders. “After today’s incident, nobody can feel safe here... it is horrible, to say the least,” said Das.
The local Trinamul leadership blamed a section of criminals, once associated with the SUCI but now with the BJP, for the killings.
MLA Das said: “The BJP, with the support of former SUCI goons, has been trying desperately to restore Canning to the gory 1990s.”
Trinamul also accused police of inertia, for failing to protect the three leaders.
“A few months ago, youth leader Badal Naskar was attacked by the former SUCI members, who were engaged by the BJP. But the police have done precious little thus far.... I came to know from witnesses that those who had attacked our youth wing leader were also behind the murders today,” said Das.
A Trinamul insider, however, suggested the murders were the fallout of the party’s internal bickering.
“The clash between two MLAs is gradually taking a terrible turn. Trinamul activists are now scared,” said a senior district Trinamul leader.
Sources said the bone of contention was the control over Trinamul’s rank and file in the area.
“Unfortunately, it is more a fight between the old and the new in Trinamul itself… between the loyalists and the new entrants. The fight has already claimed six or so lives, but the top leadership is yet to intervene. If this continues, more lives could be lost before panchayat polls next year,” said the district Trinamul leader.
CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, too, attributed the murders to Trinamul’s chronic factionalism.
“Today’s murders once again prove that nobody in the state has any security. The way three youths were killed in the morning at a crowded place is horrible. The state has been suffering from total lawlessness,” said Chakraborty.
MLA Das, however, ruled out that internal feuds were to blame for the three murders.
“BJP-backed goons had threatened Swapan Ghosh a few days ago. I assured him that I would take up the matter with the police. The police were informed” Das said, unable to explain the alleged police inaction.
Canning East MLA Saokat Molla, too, rejected the charge that the internal friction in Trinamul had led to the trio’s killings. “The BJP has no existence in the area, but has provided shelter to dreaded criminals, who have been trying to terrorise our party’s workers,” said Molla.
BJP state committee member Sunip Das has rejected the allegation. “The panchayat polls are round the corner and we apprehend more such murders over fight by Trinamul factions for dominance,” he said.
The police began a murder case clubbing three complaints submitted by the families of the deceased. Senior police officers declined to comment on the incident.
Trinamul national general-secretary Abhishek Banerjee expressed shock over the murders. “The party lost three devoted soldiers.… I convey my profound sympathies to the family, friends and well-wishers of the deceased,” the Diamond Harbour MP said in a Facebook post written in Bengali.