A gram panchayat employee, who was absent from office on Wednesday during the nationwide strike, was attacked today and his ear severed allegedly by a Trinamool Congress worker, sparking an outrage.
The incident in which the employee's ear was almost chopped off was condemned by Congress, BJP and the Left as "barbaric" and a "Taliban-type" act. The Trinamool denied its involvement.
The West Bengal government had issued a warning to employees against being absent during the two-day strike called by trade unions that began yesterday.
The employee, Hazrat Omar, was accosted by the assailant who questioned him as to why he was absent on Wednesday when he was about to enter his Debipur gram panchayat office in Jalangi in Murshidabad district, police sources said.
The assailant then whipped out a knife and slashed the employee's ear almost cutting it off and leaving him bleeding profusely, they said. Other employees rushed Omar to the Baharampur General Hospital, the sources said.
Hospital sources said Omar was out of danger and his condition stable. Block Development Officer in Jalangi Subhendu Roy said a search for the assailant was on.
Omar in his complaint to the police alleged his attacker belonged to the Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool Congress, however, denied the allegation and claimed the incident was a fallout of CPI(M) infighting.
CPI(M) leader Yunus Sarkar alleged that Omar and other party supporters were threatened by the Trinamool in the past few days to attend office during the strike.
"The incident is barbaric. It seems as if we are living in a Taliban regime if the Trinamool Congress is given liberty to perpetrate atrocities on the common people opposed to it," Union minister and Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi said.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said West Bengal is quickly descending into completely questionable governance.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury asserted that acts like the attack was against the democratic system.
CPI leader and AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said, "It is barbaric and an instance of terrorism in which state apparatus is involved."
BJP leader Smriti Irani felt that the challenge to law and order in West Bengal is a cause of concern."Is 'Left goondaraj' replaced by TMC's 'goondaraj'?."
Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien denied as blatant lies TMC's involvement. He claimed the incident may have occurred after villagers were "very very" upset at the victim not reporting for duty on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien has rejected the allegations that TMC workers chopped an ear of a Panchayat employee. In a tweet, Derek rejected the claim and asked the rival parties not to try dirty trickes.
In this age of 24/7 media, rumours go wild. Nobody’s ear was cut, no TMC workers attacked anybody. Can our rivals desist from dirty tricks?— Derek O'Brien (@quizderek) February 21, 2013
With inputs from PTI