A Trinamool Congress grassroots leader and panchayat member was shot dead by motorcycle-borne miscreants while he was on his way to a mosque in West Bengal on Monday, said the police.
According to the police, the assailants fired one round at Saifuddin Lashkar, 43, a member of Bamangachi panchayat and TMC area president, around 5 am in South 24 Parganas district, and doctors declared him brought dead.
Superintendent of Police Palash Chandra Dhali of the Baruipur area said that one person has been arrested for the murder and he is being interrogated.
The TMC, meanwhile, has alleged that CPM goons, hand in glove with the BJP, had conspired to murder Saifuddin. Ilyas Lashkar, Saifuddin’s father, also pointed fingers at the CPM as no one has had any enmity with his son.
Following the incident at Bamangachi village of the Jayanagar police station area, an angry mob vandalized houses of CPM workers and supporters, set some on fire and allegedly lynched one assailant, the police said.
According to police, five miscreants came on two bikes and fired at Saifuddin, who is the husband of Bamangachi panchayat president.
“The Trinamool leader collapsed on the road after a bullet hit him in the shoulder. On hearing the gunshots, local residents rushed to the spot where Saifuddin was lying in a pool of blood. They took him to Padmerhat Rural Hospital in Joynagar 1 Block in a critical condition. The doctors declared him dead,” said a police official.
A large police force has been deployed in Joynagar and fire engines are engaged in dousing the fire, the officer said.
As per local sources, two accused were allegedly beaten up by Trinamool supporters and one of them has died. “Another person is under treatment in the hospital. The rest of them are absconding,” said sources.
However, the police are yet to confirm the death of the assailant.
Meanwhile, CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty has rubbished Trinamool Congress’s allegations and said the leader was killed due to party infighting and called for a proper investigation into the murder. “Everyone in the area knows him as a mafia leader. Any death is unfortunate. It does not mean you can put the blame on anyone. Let the real killer be found without blaming anyone,” he said.
TMC MP Santanu Sen hit back saying that CPM killed the most number of TMC leaders until 2011.
“Despite 12 years of us being in power, we did not avenge the killings because we believe in change and not revenge. Still, we continue to be targeted by the Opposition parties. Saifuddin was our president, and his wife is our Panchayat Pradhan. He was a very popular man. CPM goons joined hands with the BJP and hatched the plot for this murder,” Sen said.
He justified the lynching incident saying that the local people caught one of the accused and what happened after that “was out of rage”.
“Police officials are trying to bring the situation under control. Recently, our leader Abhishek Banerjee during a programme in South 24 Parganas had said that we need to be alert as 2024 is drawing closer and those who can’t fight us politically will conspire to kill our people,” Sen said.
On hearing the news of the murder, Bivas Sardar, Baruipur East MLA, rushed to the hospital. He termed the murder a part of a “political conspiracy”.
“We did not think that Saifuddin would be killed in this way. He was popular. He worked with people and did a lot of work for the poor. I don’t know if he has any enemies. I don’t know who did this. Those behind the murder should be severely punished. The Opposition has no presence in that area. They are trying to seize power,” Sardar said.