It was the women who led the mayhem at Nirdeshkhali in Basanti from Saturday night till Sunday morning.
In a first in the area, hundreds of women looted and set fire to their neighbours’ houses.
When asked, a police officer said that though they have seen women take part in different clashes, seeing them beat up their neighbours or commit arson was not something he had witnessed anywhere in Bengal.
The victims, too, alleged that a majority of the attackers were women, who were armed.
The loot, which began around 3am, continued for another seven hours. Though the police arrived after that, they were mere spectators.
Eyewitnesses recounted the scene as it played out that night — with the RAF driving out the men from the village following a clash on Friday, the victims (mostly family members of the CPM or RSP supporters) had to fight their attackers on their own, as well as try to salvage what was left of their belongings.
The victims also alleged that only the men who supported the RSP and the CPM were driven out and not those belonging to the ruling party.
The loot began at about 3 am when 100-odd women from the village started targeting their neighbours’ houses.
They did not spare anything — TVs, ornaments and cash were seized. After the loot, they set fire to the houses.
Firoza Bibi, whose house was damaged, also lost all her belongings like many others.
She alleged, “Jiapan Piyada, the daughter of local TMC leader, Qutubuddin, who led the team with Kali, another leader’s daughter, and 100 other women, started the loot around 3am. They even destroyed the sheds of houses.
The male members of the attackers’ families backed them up. We had no one to help us as our men had been driven away.”
The accused were not afraid even when the police arrived.
“The women who were attacked requested the police to help them uncover the looted goods but the cops did nothing,” said Maya Das, another victim.
But interestingly, the FIR lodged later does not mention the women attackers. When asked, Subhas Naskar, an RSP leader and Basanti MLA, said, “We did not want to drag the women to court. So, only 56 male accused were named in the FIR.”
In another development, six people were arrested on Monday in connection with the violence.