Cooch Behar, Jan. 18: A youth was shot dead last night near here during an ongoing turf fight between two clubs, both of which enjoy the support of Trinamul but have elements that have spun out of the local leaders' control.
The local Trinamul MLA has denied the hand of the party in the death or violence.
Last night, at Dauaguri, about 8km from Cooch Behar town, the members of Vivekananda Club allegedly threw bombs at the rival club, Chakrashakti's office. Subhankar Sarkar, a 26-year-old jobless youth, died.
Residents said they heard gunfire and bombs. Police said Subhankar appeared to have died of bullet injuries, though the post-mortem report is awaited.
But residents and a local Trinamul leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the youths of the two clubs, who indulge in extortion, had become a menace in the area.
The Dauaguri gram panchayat is run by Trinamul.
The local Trinamul leader said the members of both the clubs were supporters of his party. "Dauaguri is dominated by our party, but the members of the clubs do not listen to us and have been engaging in anti-social activities."
He said: "Most of them are unemployed and with each passing day they are becoming more daring…. It is also a matter of concern that they are armed as well. Our MLA Rabindranath Ghosh has been seen attending events organised by Vivekananda Club."
The ruling party is finding itself in a controversy linked to perceived failure to keep its supporters in check at a time it is scrambling to limit the damage caused by the charges against Arabul Islam.
Ghosh, who is the Trinamul Congress's Cooch Behar district president and MLA from Natabari, under which Dauaguri falls, said he had told the police to take stern action.
"Our party is not connected in any way with these clubs and the incident is not a political one. I have told the police to investigate the incident thoroughly and arrest the guilty as soon as possible," he said.
A resident of the area, who did not want to be named, said the members of Chakrashakti Club had been extorting shopkeepers and truckers. "The other club, Vivekananda Club, also took to the streets to gain control of the extortion…. The murdered youth was a member of Chakrashakti," he said.
Cooch Behar police superintendent Anoop Jaiswal said: "The family members of the victim have filed a complaint but they have not named anyone."