KOLKATA, 29 JUNE: The change in government that was supposed to bring peace in the state has been of little use to the residents of the bheri-dotted added areas in Salt Lake who continue to live in the shadow of guns.
Residents of Kulipara, Choinabi, Khashmahal and a portion of Sukanta Nagar have always been caught in the crossfire of political parties over control of the resource-rich bheris. Earlier, the area known to be a CPI-M fiefdom used to witness frequent gun-flights for area-domination between the CPI-M and the Trinamul Congress, with the latter losing the battle most of the times. However, with the Trinamul coming to power, the residents who had hoped for peace say that the situation remains the same as infighting over control of bheris has started between the Trinamul factions.
“Some of the CPI-M goons have left the area. The men who used to come to collect tola earlier were of the CPI-M. The same men collect tola now, but have joined the Trinamul,” said Mr Gopal Mondal, a fisherman in Kulipara.
Earlier, the fishermen and the bheri-owners had to pay anything between Rs 5,000 to Rs 2 lakh, depending on the size of the bheri, to the goons-backed by political parties. And if anybody dared refuse to pay up, they were either beaten up or worse still, all the fish from the ponds were stolen. Recently, Sukanta Nagar and Choinabi witnessed a spate of clash between two factions allegedly led by none other than Bidhannagar MLA Mr Sujit Bose and vice-chairman of the Bidhannagar municipality, Mr Sabyasachi Dutta. On 24 June, two Trinamul factions of Mr Sujit Bose and Mr Sabyasachi Dutta clashed over control of auto-rickshaw union in Sukanta Nagar. It led to a gun battle with two rounds of bullets being fired and a bomb explosion.
Situation got worse on 25 June with house of Mrs Mithu Chowdhury who contested last civic elections against CPI-M’s Mrs Ila Nandi, being ransacked allegedly by the faction led by Mr Sujit Bose. Mrs Chowdhury’s husband, Mr Arun Chowdhury, was beaten up and arrested. Both Mrs and Mr Chowdhury are known to belong to Mr Sabyasachi Dutta’s lobby. After the assault, Mr Sabyasachi Dutta had alleged Mr Bose made CPI-M goons join Trinamul to gain control of the bheris. Interestingly, Mr Dutta who is also the Rajarhat Newtown MLA, had resorted to the same tactic before the elections.
Sources in the party said Mr Sujit Bose had complained about Mr Dutta to chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee and she had instructed Mr Bose to “clip his (Mr Dutta) wings”. Interestingly, this was not the first time Mr Dutta was “punished” by Miss Mamata Banerjee. It was learnt that on receiving negative feedback about Mr Dutta, from a former MLA, the state labour minister Mr Purnendu Basu was made the vice-chairman of West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HIDCO) and not Mr Dutta.