SP Piyush Pandey said hundreds of villagers had gathered in front of the dealer Bablu Chowdhury’s house, demanding Rs 1,000 for each ration card holder.
Chowdhury agreed to pay Rs 500, but they did not accept it. Soon, CPM supporters arrived, brandishing sharp weapons and beat up the villagers. A senior district committee leader of the CPM said instructions have been issued to party cadres not to cow down to threat of violence.
Male residents have fled the area, where a police picket has been posted, Pandey said. But there was no retaliation in Murshidabad, where an angry mob of 1000 villagers surrounded a ration dealer’s meet in Nabagram and set fire to three police jeeps and a van when they tried to intervene. Reinforcements from district headquarters and Rapid Action Force brought the situation under control.
Similarly, in Maheshganj in Nadia district another group of villagers attacked the local ration shop and tried to set it on fire. Communist cadres here are to organise themselves and adopt the Burdwan line.
In Nadia district, a mob ransacked the house and godown of dealer Samar Basu at Meheshganj and looted rice and kerosene. A relative of Basu was also beaten up. When police reached, the mob brickbatted them, injuring four. Locals said policemen then lathicharged in which six were injured. It was not confirmed by the police. Four persons were arrested, sources said.
In Kolkata, Home Secretary P R Roy said, “violence is taking place not only because of public outcry against the rationing system, but also with the involvement of some vested interests and anti-socials.”
Though Roy suspected involvement of some political parties in the violence, he ruled out the role of maoists.