Violence that broke out over the formation of panchayat boards in the state on Monday claimed four lives in the state, News18 reported on Tuesday. Officials said Damodar Mondal and Niranjan Gope from the Bharatiya Janata Party died in Purulia and Salam Sheikh and Azhar Sheikh from the ruling Trinamool Congress were killed in clashes in Malda.
A report in the Hindustan Times claimed that another BJP worker in Purulia had succumbed to his injuries on Monday night, taking the toll to five.
A panchayat board is set up to govern an area under one gram panchayat in rural areas. While a majority of the boards were created soon after the panchayat results were declared in May, setting up for boards overseeing 20% of the seat was postponed until August after the Supreme Court ruled out a repoll for these seats where the Trinamool Congress had won unopposed.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that their workers succumbed to injuries sustained after the police opened fire on a mob in Purulia. The crowd was protesting the denial of a BJP worker’s scheduled caste certificate during the formation of a panchayat board at Joypur in Purulia district, The Telegraph reported.
The authorities have denied the allegations. “We only fired in the air to control the situation,” district police superintendent Akash Magharia told Hindustan Times. “Our own personnel were injured in the violence.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed a group of people were targeting the state police. “Trouble broke out in certain places across the state over panchayat board formation,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat on Monday. “I have asked the administration and police to deal with such situations firmly. A group of people are targeting policemen, and one of our officers was badly injured.”
Purulia District Magistrate Alokesh Prasad Roy ordered a suspension on the formation of 32 panchayat boards in the district until peace is restored in the district. The exercise was scheduled to be completed between August 27 and 29.
The TMC workers died in Malda during a clash between two factions of the party. A three-year-old was among the eight people injured in the clash, News18 reported. All the injured are being treated at the Malda Medical College and Hospital. Malda SP Arnab Ghosh said he was leading a contingent of police personnel to bring the situation under control.