Four people have been reportedly killed in Birbhum as the fourth phase of West Bengal panchayat polls began on Monday amidst more violence.
One woman allegedly raped, over 25 houses set on fire, 70 dwellings looted and ransacked and bombs hurled discriminately – Basanti woke up to another bloody morning on Sunday.
Hundreds of Trinamool Congress supporters allegedly attacked Opposition CPI(M) and RSP workers in the villages of Nirdeshkhali and Panikhali in Basanti’s Phoolmancha, as the police took their own sweet time to arrive at the scene of violence.
The ghost of 1998, where four people were burned to death in clashes between the CPI(M) and RSP, returned to haunt politically volatile Phoolmancha in the South 24-Parganas on Sunday.
But, this time, it was the same toughs who were previously with the CPI(M) and later switched loyalties to the Trinamool Congress after the change of guard in the state, who perpetrated the attacks on their former comrades.
At about 4am on Sunday, a huge mob of ruling party supporters from neighbouring Chunakhali led by a local maulana and Trinamool leader, Qutubuddin Peyada, swooped down on Nirdeshkhali and Panikhali, setting fire to houses, shops and vehicles owned by supporters of the RSP and CPI(M).
The criminals looted money, ornaments, cycles, clothes and furniture and did not even spare the women.
In the violence that continued unabated for four hours, women played a major part. Locals complained more than 100 women led by the maulana’s daughter, Jiapan Peyada, thrashed Left supporters and looted whatever came their way.
District police superintendent Praveen Tripathi, however, pegged the number of houses burned at 15 and looted at 26. “A person named Shahjahan Mollah has been arrested in connection with the violence. We’ve received a complaint of rape and are investigating the matter,” Tripathi said.
Trouble erupted on Saturday after a Trinamool supporter from Nirdeshkhali, Saiful Islam, who was detained by the police the day before for casting three votes, returned to the village and picked up a quarrel with CPI(M) and RSP supporters. Friday was polling day in the district.
Soon after, Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed in the area as Opposition supporters fled the village on Saturday night. The villagers also blamed Gosaba MLA Jayanta Naskar for instigating the mob.
Naskar, however, rubbished the allegations and said the violence was a fallout of infighting between the CPI(M) and RSP.
3 Congress workers killed in Murshidabad
Violence continued to rock panchayat elections in West Bengal with at least three Congress party workers killed and several others, including two policemen, injured ahead of Monday's fourth and last phase of polling.
Two Congress workers, Nurmohhamad Sheikh and Ahad Ali, died when they were hit by crude bombs hurled by rival party supporters at Kapasdanga under Beldanga Police Station of Murshidabad district late on Saturday night.
Another party worker Repon Sheikh met a similar fate at Bharatpur during a clash between rival party supporters, police said.
Sporadic incidents of clash, including hurling of bombs and stone pelting, continued in the troubled district which left several injured including two policemen in Kapasdanga area.