Factional feud within the Trinamool Congress turned violent in Birbhum district on Friday, with one group throwing bombs at a panchayat office from where another group allegedly opened fire.
One person was injured, two motorbikes and a car belonging to the panchayat member were severely damaged in the bombing at Khairashole in the West Bengal district. Several crude bombs were found in the government premises.
Police superintendent Shyam Singh confirmed the clash and started a probe but denied there was any firing. The panchayat building, however, was pockmarked with damage by bombs hurled.
Trouble broke out at Babuijora panchayat office in the Kankartala police station when men representing the rival groups threw bombs at each other and allegedly exchanged fire.
At the root of the clash at Babuijora panchayat office in Kankartala police station area, say local villagers, is a fight to reportedly control open cast coal mines in the Khairasole-Dubrajpur belt. Men loyal to rival Trinamool groups led by Abdul Rehman and Ujjwal Kader have often clashed in the past.
The panchayat was reportedly trying to rein in rampant illegal mining but that effort worsened factional fights.
For Friday's clash, the immediate trigger was a protest against the local contractor who was allegedly building substandard roads. They also claimed corruption in the tender process to build that concrete road.
Members of the Ujjwal Kader group claimed villagers went to the panchayat office to complain about the contractor but there they were allegedly chased away by Abdul Rehmang's men, who used bombs and fired at them from the roof of the panchayat building.
The clash in broad daylight at a government office has raised questions about the law and order in the area. Identifying culprits is proving tricky as all of them were wearing masks.
Reacting to the development, Shyamapad Mandal, Birbhum BJP chief, said that the factional fights in the Trinamool Congress were going to destroy the party from within.