West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that there was a larger conspiracy in the violence that broke out in Birbhum district following the murder of a Trinamool Congress leader, reported NDTV. Eight people had died in the violence in Bogtui village on Tuesday.

During her visit to the village, Banerjee said that stringent action will be taken against the accused men. She said the police would investigate the violence from all angles.

On Monday night, Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh, the panchayat head of Barshal village, had succumbed to his injuries after attackers hurled crude bombs at him.

After this, violence had erupted and several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh’s murder, were allegedly attacked and set on fire with petrol bombs.

The police said women and children were among those killed. Seven charred bodies were recovered from one house alone, while one person died of injuries in a hospital in the district.

On Thursday, Banerjee said that police officers would be punished for lapses in the investigation, adding that there should be no excuses that the suspects have run away.

“The case filed before the court should be water-tight,” she said, reported PTI.

Banerjee also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to families of those who died and Rs 2 lakh each for rebuilding the damaged houses. She said the injured persons will be given Rs 50,000 each.

“Police have been ordered to throw a dragnet to unearth secret caches of illicit firearms and bombs across Bengal,” the chief minister added.

In the village, Banerjee spoke to the families of those hit by the violence. She also separately spoke to Sheikh’s family.

Arrests in the case

The killings have sparked a political controversy with the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of allowing the state’s law and order situation to collapse.

The police have filed two first information reports, one in connection with Sheikh’s death and the second related to attack on the houses.

At least 22 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence, PTI reported. Eleven of them were held on Tuesday.

“We are grilling them to find out if there were more people involved in the incident,” an unidentified police officer told PTI. “Some accused seem to have fled the village. We are trying to trace them.”

The accused persons have been booked on charges of murder, attempt to murder, arson and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Express reported.

The police officer added that forensic experts were examining the burnt houses to get an idea about the “nature of the mishap”.

The Calcutta High Court has also sought a status report from the West Bengal government on the violence by Thursday 2 pm. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava took suo motu cognisance of the case and directed the state government to immediately install CCTV cameras at the scene of the crime in the presence of the district judge.

The court also directed a team of Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Delhi to visit the site and collect evidence for forensic examination.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called the killings “heinous” and said the perpetrators should not be forgiven.

Hours earlier, Banerjee said that action will be taken against those responsible “irrespective of their political colours”. “Not justifying Birbhum killings, but such incidents are more frequent in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan,” the chief minister added.