TMC terror still haunts rural Bengal


More than three weeks after the Panchayat elections, violence and charges of Trinamool Congress’ excesses continue to haunt rural West Bengal.
Four West Bengal gram panchayat election winners, who went missing from a “safe house” in Kolkata, returned home on Sunday and alleged that they were kidnapped by Trinamool Congress men on July 27. They have alleged that some men in police uniforms were present when they were made to sign some statements that they did not write.
The winners, two women and two men, made the allegations against the Trinamool Congress and the police 24 hours after a video surfaced on social media on Saturday in which they could be heard saying that they had not been kidnapped and were safe.
The four Opposition candidates – three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates and an independent candidate supported by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) – won the Krishnachandrapur gram panchayat seats from Mathurapur in South 24-Parganas district against the ruling Trinamool Congress candidates in the July 8 rural polls. The Opposition members had left their homes and were hiding allegedly after being pressured by the Trinamool Congress to join the party. They were allegedly kidnapped on the night of July 27 from a guest house in the Panchasayar area under the jurisdiction of the Kolkata police.
Homemakers Puja Chhatui and Kamala Mondal, who won seats for the BJP, took a U-turn before the media on Sunday. “We all left our village and moved to the guest house at Panchasayar. We were afraid that TMC members might force us to switch sides. Some armed TMC men came to the guest house on the night of July 27 and kidnapped us. They repeatedly changed our location over the next two days,” Chhatui told the media after returning home. “On Saturday, some men in police uniform were present when the TMC workers made us sign some statements that they had already written. We could not read the documents,” said Kamala. Referring to a video that went viral, the third BJP candidate, Sushanta Mondal, said: “The video people saw was recorded by the kidnappers. “
The CPI (M)-backed independent candidate, Narayan Haldar, did not make any comments. A Kolkata police official said on condition of anonymity that no evidence of kidnapping was found when the Panchasayar police investigated the complaint lodged by South 24-Parganas CPI (M) leader Kanti Ganguly, who was a Minister during the Left regime. Ganguly alleged that policemen and TMC workers worked in tandem. “Is it possible to kidnap four persons unless the police are involved?” Ganguly said.
Pradyut Baidya, president of the BJP’s Mathurapur unit, said that none of the three BJP candidates contacted the party after returning home. “I heard what they told the local media but I cannot say anything before talking to them. However, we are moving the Calcutta High Court,” said Baidya.
The TMC has denied the charge. Saokat Molla, the party from Canning East, said: “There was no abduction. These people are keen on joining TMC. They left home to avoid their party leaders,” Molla said.
Once a bastion of the Left parties, most parts of South 24-Parganas are now in control of the ruling Trinamool Congress. Party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee represents the district’s Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha seat.
The panchayat elections in West Bengal were held amid violence across the State. While Opposition parties claim that 55 people have died so far in clashes during and after the polls, CM told the State Assembly earlier this week that 29 lives were lost in poll-related clashes and many of the victims were TMC supporters. BJP leader Rahul Sinha said they had earlier seen how Trinamool Congress activists looted ballots. “Now, even winning candidates are being kidnapped. Law and order have completely deteriorated in West Bengal,” Sinha said.
The TMC, however, distanced itself from the incident. “Why should we do such things? The TMC returned to power with a huge mandate in 2021 and in the recent panchayat polls, the people voted for us. This is the BJP’s style of operation where they use muscle and money power to bring winning candidates to their party,” TMC MP Santanu Sen said.