A Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activist was shot dead on Thursday in a gun battle between its cadres and the rival Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUP) members in West Bengal's Nandigram, as tension gripped the area during a shutdown called by the CPI-M.
"Dulal Garu, a CPI-M supporter, was gunned down by the BUPC members near Chadalpur in Nandigram. He received a bullet injury while walking in a protest rally taken out by the CPI-M," Nandigram police station officer-in-charge Debashis Chakraborty told IANS.
"Garu died while being taken to the nearest hospital," he said.
A CPI-M leader, Niranjan Mondal, was shot dead Wednesday at Rajaramchak area of Nandigram, about 150 km from here. The party blamed the Trinamool Congress backed anti-land acquisition group BUPC for the killing.
Protesting the incident, the district CPI-M leadership also called a 24-hour shutdown in Nandigram.
Tension gripped the region during the shutdown Thursday.
Asok Gudia, CPI-M district secretariat member, said: "We have called for 24-hour shutdown at five blocs of Nandigram - Nandigram I & II, Chandipur, Bheria and Nandagram - to protest these repeated attacks on our party members."
"The shutdown is being observed in Nandigram and some adjoining areas. BUPC activists dug up roads at four-five points in and around Nandigram," East Midnapore police superintendent S.S. Panda told IANS.
However, villagers said CPI-M supporters opened fire and hurled crude bombs at BUPC members and gun battles began Thursday morning in some areas of Nandigram, which flared up last year over a land acquisition proposal for a special economic zone (SEZ).
"We condemn this CPI-M-sponsored violence in Nandigram. CPI-M cadres have been creating trouble ever since they lost the local body election in May. Since we have come to power, we have some responsibility to restore normalcy in the violence-hit region. We have requested everyone to maintain peace in the area," BUPC leader Sheikh Suffian said.