The police firing on February 2008 resulting in five Forward Bloc (FB) supporters being killed still dominates the agenda of all parties contesting the Dinhata Assembly constituency. However, with all victims' families remaining firmly with the Left, most turn their ire on Forward Bloc leader Udayan Guha, who is contesting from the seat again.
It is Guha's immature leadership, they argue, that led to the police firing, though they condemn the brutality of the police response three years ago.
Five Bloc supporters were killed and 8 sustained bullet injuries when the police fired indiscriminately on agitators during a law violation programme led by Udayan, son of the former agriculture minister Kamal Guha, on February 5, 2008 in front of the Dinhata sub-divisional officer (SDO) office. The police firing deaths rocked the nation hardly a year after the Nandigram police firing.
Draupadi Burman, mother of Pradip, said, "Udayanbabu could not properly lead the law-violation programme. Bloc supporters suddenly became violent because of his wrong leadership. My husband along with Pradip used to join the law violation movement in front of the SDO office on February 5 every year. Nothing was wrong till 2008."
"The Dinhata firing was a result of both administrative and leadership failure. Police failed to disperse the mob using the water cannon instead of firing. We lost my only son Pachu (Pradip), the only earning member. The party has given us R3 lakh as compensation," she said at her house made of tin at Jalkhaoa Colony in Dinhata.
Bimala, 50, widow of Niranjan Halder, broke down while recollecting the Dinhata firing sitting at her small thatched-house at Salbagan in the Gosanimari area, about 20 km from Dinhata town. Niranjan who sustained bullet injuries on his thigh died on the spot.
"We are waiting for justice since 2008. But neither the government nor the party has taken any initiative to punish the policemen who killed my innocent husband and four others. My husband gave his life for the party. Party leaders had come to my house soon after the death of my husband. They have given us R3 lakh as compensation. With the elections here, they will come again," Halder added.
She said, "The firing could have been averted if Udayan Guha had properly controlled the agitation. I will vote for the party for which my husband left us for ever."
"Udayan was defeated by Trinamool candidate Ashok Mondal in the Assembly polls in 2006. After that he wanted to repair his base by organising a violent agitation, which went out of control. We lost our elder brother in the firing," said Swapan Mohanto.