At least three party offices of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were torched and Trinamool Congress supporters clashed with the police as violence flared up in West Bengal's East Midnapore district on Tuesday.
Nandigram, a rural pocket in the district, was on the boil as suspected Trinamool activists set fire to a CPI-M zonal office at Reyapara. Two offices of the Marxist party in Nachinda and Silpibari were also torched while another at Marishda was damaged.
Police said the Trinamool supporters attacked CPI-M activists after the latter allegedly forced the people to shut down their shops and business establishments in support of the nationwide strike called by major trade unions. No major injury was reported, the police said.
In a separate incident, a clash broke out between the police and the Trinamool leaders and supporters when they were prevented from entering Soniachar area near Nandigram.
Earlier in a meeting, Trinamool Congress MP Subhendhu Adhikari and his brother and legislator Dibyendu Adhikari announced a march to the Soniachar area Sep 7, to chase away CPI-M armed cadres who have allegedly taken shelter there. The two leaders claimed it was part of the Marxist party's plans to regain the political turf in Nandigram.
However, to avoid any untoward incidents, prohibitory orders were clamped in the area.
East Midnapore Police Superintendent Ashok Biswas said: "This (Tuesday) afternoon when Trinamool supporters led by the two Adhikari brothers and other local leaders started marching towards Soniachar from Somberia, police requested them not to proceed further. But they did not pay heed to our request and started agitating."
An altercation broke out as the Trinamool supporters tried to enter Soniachar ignoring the prohibitory order. However, no major injury was reported, Biswas said.
Subhendhu Adhikari said: "Today's programme was pre-scheduled and the administration had also been informed. But instead of giving us security, they prevented us from entering Soniachar to provide safe shelter to the CPI-M's armed cadres".
He also said that the Trinamool would hold a rally in Soniachar Sep 16.
The CPI-M district committee member Ashok Guria denied giving shelter to armed cadres in Soniachar to recapture Nandigram. He claimed that the CPI-M supporters were forced to flee homes because of the Trinamool.
"The Trinamool supporters have damaged seven to eight party offices in Nandigram and Contai areas of the district," Guria alleged.
Nandigram had been in the news from January 2007, when farmers spearheaded by the Trinamool launched violent protests against the state government's attempts to acquire land for a chemical hub.
The protests finally forced the state's Left Front government to abandon plans for setting up the chemical hub in Nandigram. With the masses rallying behind it, Trinamool emerged victorious in the district in the 2008 panchyat polls and in both the Lok Sabha seats in the general elections last year.