By Partha Dasgupta
Kajal Mollah, 28, Farmer, BURDWAN DISTRICT
BURDWAN, THE strongest Left bastion in West Bengal, showed signs of crumbling in the last panchayat polls with the TMC wresting a few seats from the CPM. Hordes of Left supporters switched over to the TMC under the leadership of Bamdeb Mondal, a CPM strongman thrown out of the party, and a bloody turf war ensued.
Trouble was brewing in Jyotsadi village, some 130 km from Kolkata, for some time. On the morning of 1 December, two TMC supporters were dragged out of a bus in Raina and beaten up by CPM cadres. In revenge, a large contingent of TMC activists descended on the houses of CPM supporters with firearms and bombs. A pitched battle followed.
Around noon, a team of 22 policemen, who were returning from Bontir after conducting an inquiry into an incident of arson, arrived at Jyotsadi. The team was led by Sadhan Bandyopadhyay, officer in charge (OC) of Raina Police Station. They were enquiring about one Samad, a CPM cadre allegedly driven out by TMC men. “The TMC supporters vented their ire on the team, accusing them of being hand-in-glove with the CPM, and hurled bombs at them. Madan Mukhopadhyay, a constable, was seriously injured,” claims Rajaram Rajsekharan, the SP of Burdwan. “The outnumbered policemen fired teargas shells and 10 rounds of bullets in a bid to disperse the mob.”
BUT REZAUL Mollah says the police fired to kill. “All the bullet injuries were in the chest, hands or head. My brother Hasmat Ali took the shot in his chest,” said a sobbing Mollah. Azizul Ahmed alleges that most of the villagers were returning from the fields for lunch when they were caught in the firing. “Kajal was carrying lunch for me when he was shot by uniformed men who had their faces wrapped in black cloth. Some of them were wearing slippers” says SK Alauddin, cousin of Kajal Mollah.
Local TMC supporters allege that CPM cadres in police uniform opened fire at them. In retaliation, on 3 December, TMC supporters ransacked many houses belonging to CPM supporters, including the CPM’s Krishak Sabha office at Belsar More in Raina and torched a motorbike.
Taking a cue from Jangalmahal, all approach roads to Belsar were blocked by felling trees on the main road.
By the time police removed the ‘barriers’ and entered Belsar, TMC supporters had already fled the scene.