The toll in violence in West Bengal that broke out on Saturday has increased to three, reports said on Sunday. A Trinamool Congress worker and two leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have been killed in Sandeshkhali in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, the Hindustan Times reported. Sandeshkhali is a part of the Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency.
The clashes broke out at 7 pm on Saturday after an altercation between BJP workers and Trinamool members, who were holding a booth-level meet at a marketplace in Hatgacha panchayat area. The Trinamool worker, identified as 26-year-old Qayyum Mollah, was shot and hacked to death while the BJP leaders who were killed were identified as Pradip Mondal and Sukanta Mondal. The BJP has claimed that five of its workers have been killed while Trinamool has said it fears six of its workers are dead.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly sought a report from the state government on the violence after Home Minister Amit Shah’s meeting with state BJP leader Mukul Roy in New Delhi on Saturday evening, the Hindustan Times reported. “Union home minister has asked for a report from the state government and I am sure Centre will take this up seriously,” BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told ANI. “There is a lot of anger among the people over the incident.”
Roy, who returned to Kolkata on Sunday, accused local Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh of masterminding the attack on BJP workers, PTI reported. He was scheduled to lead a delegation of party leaders, including state BJP President Dilip Ghosh, to Basirhat. The police and Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed in the area, Ei Samay reported.
State food and supplies minister and Trinamool district president in North 24 Parganas Jyoti Priya Mallick accused the Centre of interfering in the state government’s affairs. “Law and order is a State subject according to the Constitution and the Centre cannot interfere in this matter,” he said. “The Union home minister should remember that he is home minister of the country and not of the BJP.”
Education Minister Partha Chatterjee accused the saffron party of behaving like a ruling party. “They might have been able to win some seats because of Left voters but TMC still has a bigger vote share,” he said. “They have become desperate and hence resorting to violence.”
Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi travelled to New Delhi on Sunday morning. He is expected to submit a report on the violence in Sandeshkhali and talk to the prime minister about it at their scheduled meeting on Monday, Anandabazar Patrika reported.
Meanwhile, BJP workers got into a standoff with the police after they were stopped from taking the bodies of their party colleagues killed in the violence to Kolkata, NDTV reported. The saffron party workers then started building a funeral pyre on the highway. However, the party changed its decision and decided to observe a 12-hour strike in Basirhat and a statewide “Black Day” on Monday. On June 12, the party will hold a rally to the police headquarters in Kolkata’s Lalbazar area.
Violence since Lok Sabha elections
There have been numerous clashes between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress since the Lok Sabha elections, and a number of workers of the two parties have been killed. On May 30, a BJP worker was stabbed to death in Ketugram in East Burdwan district. It came four days after a saffron party worker was was shot dead in the Bhatpara area in North 24 Parganas district. A BJP supporter was among the people arrested for the murder of a Trinamool Congress leader in Kolkata last Tuesday.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee banned the saffron party’s victory processions in the state. She alleged that these processions were creating law and order problem
The Trinamool Congress and the BJP conducted a bitter Lok Sabha campaign. The saffron party won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, securing 16 more seats than the 2014 General Elections.