ARSHA (Purulia), April 25: CPI-M leaders were attacked in two separate villages last week in Arsha of Purulia, over two consecutive nights.
Over the last week, three murders have taken place in the district. With only a couple of weeks to go before the district votes for their panchayat leaders, the murders have struck terror in the hearts of both voters and election candidates in the area. Purulia will vote for the first phase of panchayat polls on 11 May.
Of the CPI-M leaders attacked, primary teacher of a local school, Khetrapal Kumar Majhi (44), who was the local committee secretary, was shot dead by a group of goons, who CPI-M district committee secretariat members said were Maoists. Another CPI-M leader who was attacked, Ram Bishnu Singh Sardar, a panchayat member and a candidate of the CPI-M for Purulia Zilla Parishad, was mercilessly beaten up by a group of armed people, who the CPI-M here claims were also Maoists. They allegedly asked Singh Sardar to withdraw his nomination. Both were reportedly engaged in meetings with CPI-M members to discuss their panchayat poll preparedness when the shootings took place.
The superintendent of police, Purulia district, Mr Ashok Kumar Prasad refused to comment on whether the attacks involved Maoists. When asked, he half-heartedly replied: “The style of operation was not at all Maoist.” Police are investigating the crimes.
Leaders of the Opposition parties categorically attributed the murders to infighting between the CPI-M and Forward Bloc. They also said the Arsha area is an FB stronghold.
But top CPI-M leaders here blamed the Maoists for the attacks and said leaflets and posters proved of their involvement.
It was learnt that the Left Front alliance is cracking up in the area. “This time, the Left parties will fight among themselves,” an Opposition party leader said. His colleagues in the Opposition parties added that it was the parties opposing the CPI-M that were united in the area.
A candidate of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Soren), Rameshwar Mahato (57), who filed his nomination papers, was hacked to death during an altercation over the wages of the 100-day job scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). He had an argument with supporters of the CPI-M at Raibandh village under the jurisdiction of Mofussil police station, in Purulia district, last week. The JMM-S had lodged an FIR against five CPI-M supporters, who were allegedly involved in the murder. Of them, two have been arrested so far. The JMM-S submitted a deputation to the district magistrate of Purulia, demanding that he put a stop to the terror tactics of the CPI-M leaders and their militant supporters.
Mr Ajit Prasad Mahato, president of West Bengal state JMM-S committee, said: “We shall not spare them. If they think this is a one-sided game, they are mistaken.”
A member of a panchayat samiti in Jhalda of Purulia, Mr Kanthi Mahato of the Congress, who was denied to issue a ticket this time, tried to commit suicide by consuming insecticide and was admitted to Purulia Sadar Deben Mahato hospital in town. In all, 5,850 candidates are in fray for the 1,736 seats of 170 gram panchayats, 1,451 candidates for 406 seats of 20 panchayat samitis and 159 candidates for 35 seats of 20 blocks for Purulia Zilla Parishad. In all, 14,97,109 voters of Purulia district will vote on 11 May (Sunday) in 1,974 booths.