Seven people die in firing, CPI-M blamed (Third Lead)

Friday, January 7, 2011

LALGARH - Seven people were shot dead and 12 wounded near this Maoist hub in West Bengal Friday, saprking allegations that the killers were sheltered in a camp set up by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). The Marxists denied involvement.

The Trinamool Congress shot off letters to Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the Central Election Commission while the Congress demanded Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s resignation over the incident, 200 km west of Kolkata in West Midnapore district.

“Seven people have been killed in firing by miscreants in Netai village. We are conducting raids. So far no one has been arrested,” said West Midnapore Additional Superintendent of Police (headquarters) Sukesh Jain.

“The injured have been rushed to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital. Three of them died,” said Jain. Additional Director General of Police Surojit Kar Purakayastha said two people had been arrested.

Home Secretary G.D. Gautama said the incident was a fallout of political tensions between the CPI-M and the Trinamool in the area. “As per reports received, there was no involvement of Maoists.”

According to villagers, the incident took place when hundreds of villagers surrounded a camp of armed CPI-M cadres housed in local leader Ranjit Dandapadhay’s house.

The CPI-M cadres then opened fire, the furious villagers added.

“At least 20 people were injured, of whom eight sustained critical injuries. Later, seven people, including a woman, succumbed to their injuries,” a villager and Trinamool Congress supporter said on the condition of anonymity.

He alleged that the CPI-M set up the camp to shelter armed cadres and threatened the villagers to provide food and send their children to the camp so that they could be trained to fight Maoists at night.

Hospital sources said a woman, identified as Phoolkumari Maity, and a man, Sourab Ghorui, died while being taken to hospital. Dhrubu Goswami and Anup Sen succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Three men - Shambhunath Ghorui, Dhiren Sen and Kabul Patro - died on the spot.

The Trinamool Congress has called a 12-hour shutdown in West Midnapore and East Midnapore districts Saturday to protest the killings.

Expressing outrage, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee rushed to Midnapore town to visit the injured. She would go to Lalgarh Saturday.

Speaking at a pre-scheduled rally in central Kolkata, Banerjee instructed her supporters to stage silent sit-in demonstrations on all roads by tying black cloth on their faces Saturday.

“We won’t call a bandh as school examinations are on. but I know for certain that the people will reply to these bullets through the ballot (in the coming elections).”

The CPI-M district leadership said there were no CPI-M camp in the area. CPI-M minister and local leader Sushanta Ghosh alleged that the Trinamool Congress brought goons from outside to capture the village.

When the villagers opposed, they fired at them, killing seven people, “including a local committee member of our party”. The party would observe “condemnation day” Saturday.

State Congress chief Manas Bhunia said the incident proved that armed camps of “harmads” (bandits) did exist. “Law of the jungle prevails in the state. The chief minister should … quit.”

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