Jolt to Left Front, FB calls WB bandh tomorrow
Kolkata (PTI), Feb. 5, 2008: Four activists of Forward Bloc, a constituent of West Bengal's ruling Left Front, were killed on Tuesday and several injured when police fired on party supporters during a law violation programme at Dinhata in Coochbehar district.
While police put the death figure at four, FB claimed five activists were killed in the firing.
Twelve policemen were injured in brickbatting by FB activists in front of the sub-divisional officer's office at Dinhata, a traditional stronghold of the party.
Protesting the police action, FB has called a 24-hour bandh in the state on wednesday, which has been supported by the main Opposition Trinamool Congress, Congress and Left opposition Socilaist Unity of Centre of India (SUCI).
The police said the firing was resorted to after teargassing and lathicharge failed to FB workers who indulged in violence, arson and ransacked SDO's office.
District Police Superintendent Anil Kumar told PTI that 12 policemen were injured in brickbatting by the mob which also set on fire a police vehicle and vandalised government property, the police said.
The situation was tense but under control with a large police force deployed in the area.
At one point during the clash with police, FB MLA Dipak Sarkar fell ill, party sources claimed.
FB activists clashed with the police in Coochbehar town too during the day.
All-India Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas described the police firing as 'barbaric and unprovoked' and claimed the incident would have 'definite impact' on LF unity.
"I would expect Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee to take appropriate action against erring police officials and Left Front Chairman Biman Bose to condemn the trigger happy policemen who sought to suppress a democratic movement," Biswas said.
The incident would not only have its impact on Left unity in West Bengal but all over the country, he said.
To a question, he said he had not yet contacted the Left Front chairman on the issue.
Main opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee extended her party's support to the bandh and expressed her party's sympathy for the killed "who fell victims to the bullets of the barbaric police of CPI(M)-led Left Front."
"There is no rule of law in West Bengal where the ruling party has been consistently committing atrocities not only on the opposition parties but on the Left allies too," she alleged.
Banerjee alleged the CPI(M)-led LF government was now leaving none out of the 'Marxists wrath'.
"We are not against Leftists but against CPI(M)," she said.
Mamata said the bandh call has been supported by TC and the party-led Progressive Democratic Secular Front "in order to save democracy."
"If necessary, TC workers would be on the streets tomorrow to foil any attempt by CPI(M) to break the bandh," she said.
The TC chief said the bandh call by a Front partner was "unprecedented" in the history of the Left Front.
She said the state government was not prepared to allow any democratic movement against its "failures" but "peoples movement cannot be suppressed by the CPI(M)-led government through brutal use of police force".
Police has become trigger-happy in LF rule and resort to firing instead of trying to use other means to contain violence, she charged.
Asked whether TC's showing solidarity to Forward Bloc-sponsored bandh would lead to realignment of political forces against CPI(M) and bring FB and her party closer, Mamata said it was not the appropriate time to reply to such a question.
Condemning the police firing, West Bengal PCC said it was extending moral support to the bandh being organised by the FB.
Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, WBPCC working president Pradip Bhattacharya said "police under the CPI(M)-led Left Front government has become trigger happy."
"I demand that the government take action against the erring police officials who issued the order to fire", he said.
BJP state general secretary Rahul Sinha in a statement demanded a judicial inquiry into the police firing and said his party had decided to lend 'moral support' to the bandh call.
Sinha asked Forward Bloc to come out of Left Front 'as a mark of protest'.
Samajwadi Party too condemned the police firing and supported the bandh call.
Ultra left CPI(ML) state committee said it would 'fully' support the bandh on wednesday.