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Birbhum violence: Prodded by Mamata, police arrest local TMC boss

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Rampurhat (WB), Mar 24: Hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took a tough stance and ordered the hunting down of all suspects of the Birbhum carnage including her party colleagues, police on Thursday arrested a local Trinamool Congress boss Anarul Hossain from near a hotel in the pilgrimage town of Tarapith.

Birbhum killings: Prodded by Mamata, police arrest local TMC boss

Earlier in the day, on visiting Bogtui village, the scene of Tuesday's fire bombing and burning of eight people, Banerjee spoke with the family members of the victims and offered them permanent government jobs and funds as compensation.

She also visited the house of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh, whose murder is suspected to have triggered the carnage, and gave the same offers to his next of kin. "Police will ensure that strictest punishment is handed out to culprits responsible for the Rampurhat carnage. The case filed before the court should be water-tight," the chief minister said. Banerjee said there could be a "bigger conspiracy" behind the carnage which has attracted widespread condemnation.

She also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of the victims, and Rs 2 lakh each for rebuilding the damaged houses. Those injured will be provided with Rs 50,000 each. The CM directed the police to arrest TMC leader and Rampurhat-1 community block unit president Anarul Hossain stating that he did not pay proper attention to the apprehension of locals about a possible disturbance in the area, leading to the carnage.

Searches were conducted in various parts of the district including Hossain's residence, after which he was nabbed from Tarapith. He was picked up from near a hotel after police tracked his mobile phone location, a police officer said. Describing the burning alive of eight people as a "heinous crime", Banerjee criticised the role of the Rampurhat SDPO Shayan Ahmed and other police officers and said it could have been averted if the police were proactive. Those officers should be punished for "negligence in duty", the CM said. The SDPO was later sent on compulsory waiting by the district police authorities.

"I cannot imagine such an incident. The law and order is being disturbed in Birbhum by a few people. Police will look into every possible angle into it. They will also see whether local people or outsiders are involved in it. I believe there is a larger conspiracy into it," she said. Police have been ordered to throw a dragnet to unearth bombs and illegal firearms from across the state, Banerjee said adding that a large posse of police personnel should be deployed in the area to keep a check on any possible attack on the villagers by outsiders. "I condemn both the murders (of Bhadu Sheikh and the eight others). I am not talking as a CM but as a human being. You have lost your loved ones, my heart is broken. It's our responsibility to look after the wellbeing of the family members," she said.

About the job offer to the family members of the murder victims, Banerjee said they will be given Group D employment with a salary of Rs 10,000 for the first year after which their jobs will be made permanent, she said. Later, Banerjee also visited the five injured people who are undergoing treatment at a hospital in nearby Rampurhat town. PTI

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