A Trinamool Congress leader was shot dead in South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar in West Bengal on Sunday, causing the political temperature in the region to soar again. Panchayat leader Asikur Rahman, 48, died after being hit by a bullet on the head. “We are investigating how and why was he shot,” a police officer said. The area had been on the boil over the state government’s land acquisition for a power sub-station. While the Trinamool Congress blamed activists of a group called Jami, Jibika, Paribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee (Committee to Protect Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecosystem), which has been spearheading the ongoing land agitation at Bhangar, for the killing, the Committee claimed the death was caused by Trinamool’s faction fight.
The incident happened on the day when the Committee along with the Left Front leadership were to hold a rally in Bhangar demanding that the acquired land to be given back to the villagers. Stating that armed Trinamool cadres gathered in the region to disrupt their rally, the Committee claimed that Rahman was killed by a bullet fired from the gun of one of his own partymen. Refuting this, the local Trinamool leadership accused the Committee activists of spreading tension in the area and shooting Rahman.
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“Rahman was a devoted TMC activist… We think he was shot by someone from the Committee,” party leader Kaizar Ahmed alleged. “There is no faction fight between our party activists here. The party is united.” South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar, known for its history of political violence, was on the boil during January over ‘forced’ acquisition of 16 acres of farmland — spread over Khamarait, Machhi Bhanga, Tona and Padmapukur villages — by the government for the Power Grid Corp of India Ltd (PGCIL).
Protesters fought a pitched battle with police when they tried to enter Padmapukur village. The agitators attacked the police. Two persons were shot in the clash. Following the incident, the government officially announced the cancellation of the power grid project and said no land would be taken from the villagers if they are unwilling.