Shots fired at Mamata
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, October 28
Three gunshots were fired at Mamata Banerjee's vehicle while she was proceeding to Nandigram village around 3 pm today.
Meanwhile, nine persons, including a 6-year-old school student, were killed in fresh incidents of violence in Nandigram and adjoining areas during the past 24 hours following clashes between the activists of the Krishi Bachaoo Committee and the CPM.
Over 30 persons were injured, 17 with gunshots. The injured had been admitted to Tamluk and Midnapore hospitals, where the condition of five persons was stated to be critical.
Mamata Banerjee was shot at while she was proceeding to Nandigram village around 3 pm. The vehicle in which she was travelling was attacked by the CPM activists near the Tekhali bridge and three bullets were fired at her from a nearby vacant house which CPM cadres were occupying since last night. In the evening, escorted by party workers and supporters, Mamata left the village for returning to Kolkata.
Shocked and surprised, Mamata phoned union home minister Shivraj Patil from the spot and informed him about the incident. She demanded the Centre's intervention and the imposition of President's rule in West Bengal.
A Congress delegation, which included Mahila Congress leader Chandrima Bhattacharyya, was also attacked by the CPM workers while proceeding towards Nandigram for lending its support to today's Nandigram bandh called by the Krishi Bachaoo Committee and other anti-Left parties. It was alleged that Bhattacharya and other Congress leaders were dragged out of the vehicle and assaulted. The vehicle in which they were travelling was also attacked and damaged. The Congress leaders were then forced to leave the place. A formal complaint was lodged by the Congress with the local police station.
In Kolkata, as the news of attacks on Mamata spread, several Trinamool workers and supporters came out on the streets and staged demonstrations at several places. A group of activists of the Trinamool students wing gheraoed the Chief Minister's residence at Palm Avenue and burnt his effigies.
The Chief Minister was busy today meeting with the US finance secretary when the report of attack on Mamata reached Writers Buildings. Bhattacharjee was seeking the US secretary's intervention in bringing larger US investment to the state.
But the Chief Minister did not comment on the incident of attack on Mamata. The home secretary, Prasad Ranjan Roy, however, said they were looking into the matter. He said they had already directed the police to take firm action against the lawbreakers irrespective of their political affiliation.
Several Congress leaders, including Somen Mitra and Subrata Mukherjee, vehemently condemned the attack on Mamata Banerjee. They demanded the Chief Minister's resignation over the incident.
CPI minister Nandogopal Bhattacharyya criticised the attempt on Mamata's life. He demanded that the police officials in charge of law and order in the area be immediately suspended. He demanded the arrests of the CPM workers and supporters involved in the attempt to kill Mamata.
Similarly, RSP and Forward Bloc leaders also condemned the attack on the Trinamool leader.
Interestingly, the police remained a spectator and it did not act against the two warring groups involved in severe clashes at several places. No arrest was also made in connection with today's violent incident in which firearms and other weapons were freely used and houses in Takapura village and other areas adjoining Nandigram were burnt.
According to reports reaching the state government at Writers Buildings from the district headquarters, activists of the CPM and the Trinamool Congress were involved in shooting incidents at several places in Nandigram and other adjoining places since last night following the death of five CPM workers at a time at Khejuri last evening.
The CPM alleged their people were killed following the attacks by the Trinamool activists and the Naxalites with bombs and firearms. But the Trinamool local leader, Subhendu Maiti, alleged that the five CPM workers were killed while preparing bombs at their party office at Khejuri for using them against farmers and other residents at Nandigram.
A large number of CPM workers and supporters in the district gathered at Khejuri village this morning and from there they marched towards Nandigram for recapturing their "lost areas". They were carrying firearms, bombs and other lethal weapons. But the procession was stopped by the Krishi Bachaoo Committee workers and supporters near Sonachura village and soon the two groups clashed.
But the CPM was successful in wresting several areas from where they had been dislodged during the March 14 incident when over 14 persons were gunned down jointly by the police and the CPM cadres. While entering Katapura village, angry CPM workers and supporters burnt down several houses and vacated the place for enabling their people to take the possession of vacant areas.