Visit Delhi to discuss situation, Chidambaram tells Buddhadeb

At least seven persons (eight, according to the Union Home Ministry), including two women, were killed and 17 (may be up to 18, according to the Ministry) injured, four seriously, in violence at Netai village in Lalgarh area of West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district on Friday.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram sent a letter to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, drawing his attention to “this grave incident” in which, according to information reaching his Ministry, “eight people were killed and may be up to 18 injured.” The names of six of the dead had reached him so far.

Mr. Chidambaram requested the Chief Minister to “kindly reschedule his appointments and visit Delhi as soon as possible” to discuss the situation in the State.

While the State government, citing preliminary reports, described the incident as a “political clash” between supporters of two groups over a recent meeting, leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and those of the Trinamool Congress blamed each other for the violence. The CPI(M) claimed that Maoists too were involved in the incident.

In a statement. Governor M.K. Narayanan said: “…. No democracy can allow such violence. No civilised society can tolerate such wanton disregard for human lives and no State can accept such mindless discord.”

“… A decisive stage has been reached for the government to act before it becomes a point of no return,” he said.

The Trinamool alleged that villagers were fired at by inmates of a house, which was being used as a camp by armed CPI(M) activists.

Refuting the charge, the CPI(M) State leadership said the attack was carried out jointly by Maoists and Trinamool activists in a bid to evict those who had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to flee due to extremist violence.

The police are verifying reports of the involvement of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee in the violence.

One company of the Central police force and the State Armed Police was posted in the area where tension was palpable hours after the violence. Two persons were arrested in connection with the violence and a landmine was seized, Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) S. Purakayastha said.

It was an act of vengeance by Maoists and Trinamool supporters on people who, after having fled, had started returning following a rally by the CPI(M) in Lalgarh on December 31 last, CPI(M) State secretary Biman Bose said in a statement.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee visited the injured in the district hospital at Midnapore. She is scheduled to visit the site of the violence on Saturday. The Trinamool has demanded the immediate resignation of the Chief Minister.

“The incident only proves that armed CPI(M) cadres are running camps in the Lalgarh area … The Left Front has lost all credibility and should step down immediately,” said West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manas Bhunia.