Saturday, January 6, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

18 massacred in Bengal
Trinamool blames CPM, seeks President’s rule

MIDNAPORE, Jan 5 (UNI) — At least 18 persons, including four children, were massacred allegedly by CPM activists at Garbeta in Midnapore district late last night, hours before the Trinamool Congress-sponsored Bangla bandh began this morning.

Senior Trinamool Congress leader Pankaj Banerjee, MLA, said all victims belonged to his party. Mr Banerjee alleged that some of the victims were burnt alive when the house they had taken shelter in was set on fire. Those who managed to emerge from the burning house were shot or hacked to death. Two persons, however, managed to escape, he said.

Mr Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata that the victims had taken shelter in the house of Abdul Ghani, a Trinamool supporter, at Chotoanguria village. He alleged that CPM activists gheraoed the house and set it on fire.

However, in Kolkata, Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya denied reports of any death or injury in the attack. He told newspersons that a house was set on fire but there were no casualties.

Meanwhile, an NDA team would visit Chotoanguria village in Midnapore district tomorrow to probe the massacre, Mr Banerjee said today.

He said Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee would also reach the spot tomorrow despite her injuries which she suffered after a party meeting in Keshpur on January 3.

“The Trinamool Congress is now demanding the immediate imposition of President’s rule in the state and the resignation of the Chief Minister who has lost the right to rule,’’ he said and thanked the people for making today’s 12-hour statewide bandh a “grand success.’’

KOLKATA: In spite of the Chief Minister’s warning of stern action, less than 35 per cent employees of the Finance Department at the Writers’ Buildings here attended office on the bandh day on Friday.

Meanwhile, train services on Eastern Railway’s, Howrah, Sealdah and Asansol divisions were severely disrupted.

Railway sources said here a number of long-distance trains were either cancelled, detained or re-scheduled.


Samata splits, Nitish, Jha hold parallel meetings

PATNA, Jan 5 (UNI, PTI) — The Samata Party suffered a virtual split in Bihar today after efforts by senior leaders for a patch-up failed.

The two rival camps, one led by Mr Nitish Kumar, who resigned from the Union Cabinet yesterday, and the other by the state party chief, Mr Raghunath Jha, held parallel meetings of the state council here.

The group led by Mr Nitish Kumar authorised him to nominate candidates to state party posts while the other faction re-elected Mr Jha as state party president. Both camps justified their separate meetings that virtually split the party but neither expelled members of the rival camp.

While the meeting convened by Mr Jha saw the presence of six MPs, leaders of both factions at this juncture were unable to assess the number of delegates and legislators in their camps. The crisis recently precipitated over the issue of the party’s merger with the Janata Dal (U).

Earlier, the state council meeting convened by Mr Nitish Kumar unanimously authorised him to constitute the state executive. The meeting was attended by a good number of delegates in the presence of the Minister of State for Railways Mr Digvijay Singh and Renu Singh, MP.

At the meeting Samata’s legislature party leader Umashankar Singh proposed the name of Mr Nitish Kumar for nominating the state party president and the state executive besides those for the national council. The meeting, while reposing faith in Mr Kumar’s leadership, claimed that the state council meeting was genuine and the doors were open to all delegates.

NEW DELHI: Meanwhile, the Communication Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, on Friday indicated that his newly floated Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) would support rebel Samata and RJD leaders in the fight against ruling RJD in Bihar.

“I am prepared to support any party which is sincere in defeating Laloo Yadav,” Mr Paswan told newsmen when asked if the LJP would support the dissident Samata group.

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