On Sunday afternoon, the West Bengal police had reportedly arrested 13 people in connection to the deaths of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) worker and a socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) member, following a violent clash between the two sides at Kultali in South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.
The violent clash took place at the backdrop of a protest by SUCI against misappropriation of funds, meant for the victims of cyclone Amphan, by the TMC. During the scuffle on Friday, a 46-year-old TMC leader Ashwini Manna was killed. On Saturday, the house of one 58-year-old Sudhanshu Jana was set on fire and his body was found hanging at the house. About 40 houses were vandalised and set ablaze on the same day.
As per locals, there were escalated tensions between the TMC and SUCI after the former gained power in the Maipur-Baikunthapur panchayat. As per reports, two members each from the CPM and SUCI had switched over to the TMC that helped the latter’s secure majority in the panchayat.
Political slugfest and police action
Reportedly, the TMC had blamed SUCI for the murder of Ashwini Manna whereas SUCI maintained that the lynching was the handiwork of the agitated villagers. As for Sudhanshu Jana, SUCI claimed that he was killed whereas Trinamool alleged that it was a case of suicide. 13 people had been arrested in connection with the case. They included 5 SUCI leaders and 8 Trinamool workers. Cops had also arrested TMC leader Pintu Pradhan with regard to the crime.
A 12-hour bandh was scheduled to be held on Monday by the SUCI against the alleged murder of their party member. SUCI emphasised that the party would continue to protest against the ‘brutalities’ of the current political dispensation. Rubbishing the claims, TMC General Secretary Partha Chatterjee said that the Opposition was criticising the reform undertaken by the government. “We do not waste our time on these issues,” he was quoted as saying.
SCUI makes change of plans
In light of the violent clash, SUCI had cancelled their protest against corruption in the disbursement of Cyclone Amphan funds. Reportedly, the party had plans to surround the BDO officer and hold demonstrations with 5000 people. SUCI district committee member Prakash Maity said, “The violence in Maipith forced us to postpone the programme and we have switched from the issue of Amphan to the murder of our district committee member Sudhanshu Jana.
We will launch the movement against Amphan aid graft after this situation gets normal. Many of our party workers’ homes were set on fire,” Maity added. CPM MLA Ramsankar Haldar informed that demonstrations would continue but in gram panchayats, other than Mapith.
Corruption in Cyclone Amphan Relief
Earlier, TMC leader and panchayat member Swapan Kumar Ghatu was was gheraoed by the residents of Kailashpur village in South 24 Paraganas and held hostage at a local school playground for illegally receiving compensation amount, originally meant for the victims of Cyclone Amphan.
The locals had alleged that the TMC politician had siphoned off relief funds by listing his family members as the beneficiaries. Later talking to media, Swapan Kumar Ghatu conceded that there were anomalies in compensation distribution. He said that there were some mistakes in preparing the list of beneficiaries, and he apologised for the same.