A three-year-old boy was shot in the head in West Bengal’s Malda district on Thursday as clashes continued between political parties over the formation of panchayat boards. The minor, identified as Mrinal Mondal, underwent surgery and is in a critical condition, reported the Hindustan Times.
On Tuesday, three people were killed and 15 were injured after violence broke out between workers of the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Amdanga in North 24 Parganas. The day before, four people were killed in clashes in Purulia and Malda.
The boy’s mother, Putul Mondal, won the rural body election in Manikchak village on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket but then joined the Trinamool Congress, reported The New Indian Express. Of the 18 seats in Manikchak, the BJP won 10, the Trinamool six, and the Congress and an independent candidate won a seat each.
After the election, the Congress worker and the independent candidate joined the Trinamool Congress. The ruling party then allegedly attempted to bribe Putul Mondal to join it, reported the Hindustan Times. Initially, both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP were tied at nine votes apiece in an election for the pradhan (chief). In a lottery, the BJP won the posts of both the pradhan and the deputy pradhan.
BJP’s Malda District President Sanjit Mishra alleged that the ruling party had promised to pay Putul Mondal between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh if she switched allegiance. “When she went to demand the money today, Trinamool supporters declined to pay since they could not form the board,” he claimed.
State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said if BJP workers are found to be involved in the incident, they will be handed over to the police, reported The New Indian Express.
Trinamool Congress’ District President Dulal Sarkar said the child was shot at by BJP workers. “Putul Mondal joined our party to join the bandwagon of development,” he said. “But BJP-backed goons shot at her child.”
Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee also blamed the Opposition party. “They are now laying the blame at Trinamool’s door,” he said. “Our chief minister [Mamata Banerjee] has spoken against the culture of violence all along.”