Kolkata: Eight persons, including a woman,
were shot dead and 18 injured by suspected armed CPI-M cadres
in Lalgarh in West Midnapore district on Friday.
The villagers, who had gathered to protest against
demands made by Marxist armed cadre that they volunteer for
night patrols and arms training, were fired at from a house at
Netai village in Belatikri gram panchayat in Lalgarh police
station area, sources said.
The killings triggered a blame game between CPI-M on
the one hand and Congress and Trinamool on the other and drew
a strongly worded statement from Governor M K Narayanan who
said "it was a day of sorrow and shame" for the state and
asked the state government to act "before reaching a point of
In Delhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram shot off another
letter to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asking him to
"reschedule all appointments and visit Delhi immediately".
Describing the violence in Lalgarh as a "grave
incident", Chidambaram said he had received information that
eight people were killed in the firing and 18 injured.
A senior West Bengal police official said there was a
woman among the dead.
Villagers alleged that armed CPI-M cadre living in the
house of a CPI-M activist Ranjit Dandapat for the past four
months and for whom they were forced to cook and wash clothes,
fired on them from inside.
Home Secretary Gyan Dutta Goutama said the incident
was the result of a political clash between the Trinamool
Congress and the CPI-M.
"The firing in Lalgarh is a result of a political
clash between the Trinamool Congress and the CPI-M," Goutama
told reporters at the state secretariat.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose accused both Maoists
and Trinamool Congress of being responsible for the incident.
"We strongly condemn the despicable activity by the
Maoists and the Trinamool Congress and ask the people of the
area to raise their voice in protest. We also ask the
administration to take strong steps," the CPI-M state
committee secretary said in a statement here.
Mamata accused the CPI-M of resorting to the politics
of terror by using its `harmads` (armed cadre).
On the other hand, Congress demanded the resignation
of Bhattacharjee alleging the administration had totally spun
out of his control.
The fresh violence came days after a "letter war"
between Chidambaram and Bhattacharjee on the unabated killing
of political workers in West Bengal, in the run up to the
Assembly elections which are due in May.