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a report by Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati

On 29th December, Com. Sunil Pal, a well-known labour leader from the Asansol-Ranigunge coal belt, was shot to death in his trade union office by unidentified assailants. Sunil Pal was a naxalite leader from the ’70s and had been a popular organizer and leader of coal miners in the coal belt in West Bengal since the 1980s. He was affiliated to the Indian Federation of Trade Unions. In the coal belt areas, he had been one of the first organizers of women who had lost their husbands in mining accidents and who hadn’t got compensation or jobs. He was also an indefatigable participant in all mass movements in West Bengal, be it in support of Singur or Nandigram or Lalgarh or against UAPA.

On 29th December evening, he had just returned from a meeting of fasting workers in Dishergarh, and was working in his office at around 6 pm when the hired killers entered and fired 24 rounds at him. 16 bullets were recovered from his body. The assailants were later seen to have walked in the direction of the local CPI(M) office. I nterestingly, eye witnesses reported that the sniffer dogs which had been brought by the police also followed the trail of the murderers to the CPI(M) office. It is quite apparent that the coal mafia-patch owner-CPI(M) nexus in the colliery areas orchestrated the murder of this labour leader. The police have made no arrests yet (they are busy providing security to the local CPI(M) leaders as the workers are very angry) and as usual the mainstream press have nearly carried no reports. This is a case similar to that of Shankar Guha Niyogi who was also killed by assailants hired by the owners.

On 18th January, a protest march is being organized in Kolkata. It will start from the College Square at 1pm and end at Metro Channel.

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