Injured DYFI activist dead, sparks pol slugfest in Bengal

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(Eds: Adds details, incorporates related stories) Kolkata, Feb 15 (PTI) The political cauldron was on the boil in poll-bound West Bengal on Monday over the death of a DYFI activist with the Left Front accusing the state government of 'cold-blooded murder' and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemning the incident and offering a job and financial help to the bereaved family.

Maidul Islam Midda an activist of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), a CPI-M youth wing, was critically injured during the Left Front March to the secretariat on February 11.

He was admitted to a private hospital where he died this morning.

'He died because of Rhabdomyolysis followed by kidney failure and pulmonary embolism after which there was a cardiac arrest this morning,' said CPI-M leader and doctor Fuad Halim, at whose medical facility Midda was treated before being shifted to another hospital, said.

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome caused by direct or indirect muscle injury.

31-year-old Midda, a resident of Bankura, was a toto- van driver by profession.

An FIR was registered with Shakespeare Sarani police station in the city in connection with the death, a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.

'A police investigation is on. The post mortem was conducted in the presence of three doctors and has been video recorded,' said a senior police official.

The death triggered a political slugfest in the poll-bound state with CPI(M) accusing the police and Trinamool Congress government of 'murdering' Midda and terming it as a 'cold-blooded murder'.

The chief minister condoled the death and said her government is ready to provide a job and financial support to the bereaved family.

'I do not support any death. Every death is unfortunate. I have come to know that even his (Midda's) family members were not informed where he was admitted. No police complaint was made in this connection,' said an agitated Banerjee after a reporter sought to know her reaction.

Echoing her TMC colleagues, she asserted that it should be ascertained whether Midda had any health issues.

'I have spoken to the Soumen Mitra (Kolkata Police Commissioner). The police kept a watch on the post mortem. But the custom is that the hospital or nursing home must complain to the local police station in such a case. But in this instance nothing of that sort was done,' she said.

'Even the family members have said that they came to know (about Midda's condition) only on February 13. What were they doing for two days (since Feb 11)? Whether he had any renal problems or not also needs to be checked,' she said.

Midda's wife has said that she will accept Banerjee's job offer. 'We have three daughters and a widowed mother to look after,' she said.

Reacting to it, a senior LF leader said 'It's her prerogative. And going by the financial condition of the family, I believe that she must consider it'.

Midda(31), a toto-driver in Kotulpur block of Bankura district, was the sole bread earner of his family.

The CPI(M) alleged that the TMC government wanted to teach the protesters a lesson as they had organized the march to the secretariat demanding jobs.

'The police had fatally hit Midda during the agitation. It is nothing but cold-blooded murder by the state government. The way the students were lathi charged during the march shows that the TMC government is scared and worried.' CPI-M central committee member Sujan Chakraborty told reporters.

The incident seems to have provided the Left, which had taken a back seat with the emergence of BJP as the main opposition in the politically polarised state, with the much needed political ammo ahead of the assembly polls, political observers said.

The CPI(M) and DYFI activists hit the street in protests against Midda's death and announced a programme to gherao police stations across the state on Tuesday.

Comparing the police action on CPI-M activists with the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre, CPI-M Politburo member Mohammed Salim said that the Left agitators had no escape route and were beaten up mercilessly on February 11.

'The Centre has declared war on farmers in Delhi.

Similar things are happening in this state,' he asserted.

State Panchayat Minister and senior TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee on the other hand alleged that CPI(M) had deliberately created trouble during the stir to garner public support for itself before the state poll due in April-May.

'Any death is unfortunate. The police was very sensible on that day (February 11). I think the CPI(M) is trying to gain public sympathy by using a body ahead of the polls,' he said.

State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh too mourned Midda's death and lashed out at the TMC government.

'This is an unfortunate incident. It shows that the TMC government has lost control over everything. Whatever is happening in West Bengal is not correct,' he said.

A section of the state BJP leadership even alleged a 'got up match' between TMC and CPI(M) to provide the Left Front with 'political mileage' ahead of the polls.

'The TMC is trying to help CPI(M) and the Congress cut into the votes of the BJP. The lathi charge of February 11 was deliberate to provide them with political mileage,' a senior state BJP leader said.

Meanwhile, a policeman was assaulted on Monday allegedly by a section of the people who gathered in front of an SFI office in Kolkata to protest against Midda's death.