West Bengal’s Khejuri on boil again, CPI-M office torched (Lead)

June 14th, 2009 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 13 (IANS) West Bengal’s troublespot Khejuri saw more violence Saturday as opposition Trinamool Congress activists torched an office of the state’s ruling communists and began a “social boycott” of the police by snapping the electricity and telephone connections of the police station.
Protesting against the jail remand for their partymen on charges of rioting, the Trinamool activists asked those working as support staff in the Khejuri police station in East Midnapore district to come out and ordered those renting out cars to police to take their vehicles away.

“The police won’t get a school building to set up camps. They won’t get food or water. Shopkeepers won’t sell any items to them,” said Trinamool MP Subhendu Adhikari.

However, the electricity and telephone lines were restored after a couple of hours.

State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said: “Police boycott means boycott of the administration and the boycott of law and order and boycott of the constitution. The Maoists do it. How can others do so?”

Adhikari later said: “He should not have said such things from the state secretariat. He should have made such comments sitting at the Communist Party of India-Marxist office.”

But a possible stand-off between the police and Trinamool workers was averted this morning as the party called off its 37-hour blockade of the Khejuri police station and a road in the locality.

The Trinamool and the state administration had Friday looked headed for a violent confrontation with the home secretary threatening to use force to lift the blockade and Adhikari daring him to do so.

The Trinamool also prevented the police from presenting their 14 arrested workers workers to court Friday by organising the blockade.

Police Saturday managed to produce them in the court. Only one of them got bail and the others were remanded to jail by an East Midnapore district court judge.

As the news of the court verdict reached Khejuri, angry Trinamool workers torched the Janka party office of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

“The office had been partly damaged by arsonists two days back prompting the police to nab the 14 workers,” said district superintendent of police Pallab Kanti Ghosh.

“There is still tension in the area. There is a large police presence,” Ghosh told IANS over telephone.

The district administration has convened a meeting of local leaders of various parties and police and administrative officials to find ways to restore peace.

Khejuri, about 160 km from here, was traditionally known as a CPI-M stronghold.

Fresh violence erupted recently in Khejuri, a block neighbouring the erstwhile violent zone of Nandigram, as several offices of the ruling Left Front major CPI-M were torched and homes of a number of its leaders there ransacked allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters.

The Trinamool Congress had called for a 12-hour shutdown Tuesday after the arrest of some CPI-M activists for allegedly storing weapons. Many houses and CPI-M offices were ransacked and set ablaze by irate villagers that day.

Five state ministers, on their way to Khejuri, were also stopped by Trinamool supporters and not allowed to set foot in the area.

Adhikari, the MP from Tamluk which includes Nandigram, supported the boycott of police.

“People are angry. The police have behaved in a partisan manner. They did not arrest any prominent CPI-M leader after weapons were seized from their houses. But the police put our innocent supporters behind bars under non-bailable sections,” he said.

Khejuri comes under the Contai Lok Sabha constituency from where Adhikari’s father and central minister Sisir Adhikari won on a Trinamool ticket last month.

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