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Seven killed in Lalgarh violence

Kolkata Bureau

‘Visit Delhi to discuss situation,' Chidambaram tells Buddhadeb

Photo: PTI

Trinamool Congress supporters take part in a rally in Kolkata on Friday along with the bodies of the three slain party members from Burdwan.

KOLKATA: At least seven persons (eight, according to the Union Home Ministry), including two women, were killed and 17 (maybe up to 18, according to the Home Ministry) injured, four seriously, in violence at Netai village in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district on Friday.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram sent a letter to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee drawing his attention to “this grave incident” in which, according to information reaching his Ministry, “eight people were killed and maybe up to 18 injured.” The names of six of the dead had reached him so far.

Mr. Chidambaram requested the Chief Minister to “kindly reschedule his appointments and visit Delhi as soon as possible” to discuss the situation in the State.

While the State government, citing preliminary reports, described the incident as a “political clash” between supporters of two groups over a recent meeting, leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and those of the Trinamool Congress blamed each other for the violence. The CPI (M) claimed that Maoists too were involved in the incident.

The Trinamool alleged that villagers were fired at by inmates of a house, which was being used as a camp by armed CPI (M) activists.

Refuting the charge, the CPI (M) State leadership said the attack was carried out jointly by Maoists and Trinamool activists in a bid to evict those who had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to flee due to extremist violence.

The police are verifying reports of involvement of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee in the violence.

One company of the Central police force and the State Armed Police was posted in the area where tension was palpable hours after the violence. Two persons were arrested in connection with the violence and a landmine was seized, said Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) S. Purakayastha.

It was an act of vengeance by Maoists and Trinamool supporters on people who, after having fled their homes, had started returning following a rally by the CPI (M) in Lalgarh on December 31, CPI (M) State secretary Biman Bose said in a statement.

Mamata visits the injured

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee visited the injured in the district hospital at Midnapore. She is scheduled to visit the site of the violence on Saturday. The Trinamool has demanded immediate resignation of the Chief Minister.

“The incident only proves that armed CPI (M) cadres are running camps in the Lalgarh area … The Left Front has lost all credibility and should step down immediately,” said West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manas Bhunia.

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