The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday asked the West Bengal government to submit reports on political violence in the state, which has reportedly claimed 160 lives in the last four years, and the ongoing doctors’ strike, PTI reported. The ministry had sought a report from the state government last week after violence in Basirhat in the state’s North 24 Parganas district.

The ministry told the Mamata Banerjee government that according to its reports the number of incidents of political violence in the state increased from 509 in 2016 to 1,035 in 2018. “Seven hundred and seventy three incidents had occurred in 2019 till date,” an unidentified official told The Hindu. “Correspondingly, the death toll rose from 36 in 2016 to 96 in 2018, while 26 deaths had taken place in 2019 till date.”

The Centre said the trend of political violence from 2016 through 2019 indicated that the state’s law-enforcement machinery had failed to maintain the rule of law and inspire a sense of security among the people, Mint reported. “It is requested that a report may be sent to this ministry on the steps taken by the state government and its law enforcement machinery to investigate the incidents of violence to bring the culprits to book as also the measures taken to contain and curb violence.”

Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee had described the Centre’s previous advisory as a conspiracy against the state government. It was issued after at least three BJP leaders and a Trinamool Congress worker were killed in violence in Sandeshkhali last week. Earlier this week, at least three people died in political violence in Kankinara in North 24 Parganas, and East Burdwan district.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed 10 people, eight of whom were associated with her party, have been killed in violence in the state since the Lok Sabha elections. 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 on June 4.

Doctors’ protests

The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had received representations from doctors, healthcare professionals and medical associations from different parts of country for their safety and security after doctors were assaulted in West Bengal.

“It is requested that a detailed report be sent urgently on the representations and ongoing strike by the doctors,” it added.

The junior doctors at NRS Hospital in Kolkata went on strike on Tuesday, a day after the family of a patient, who died during treatment, allegedly attacked two interns – Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, who suffered a fractured skull, and Yash Tekwani, who also suffered head injuries.

On Saturday, the protesting doctors turned down Mamata Banerjee’s invitation to a meeting to resolve the impasse. The chief minister had invited them after holding a two-hour meeting with senior doctors, who are not part of the strike. The protestors want Banerjee to visit the injured doctors, condemn the attack on them, withdraw all false cases against doctors, and improve hospital infrastructure and facilities.

Resident doctors from 14 government hospitals across Delhi are on strike while medical professionals at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, or AIIMS, and Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi have given Banerjee a 48-hour ultimatum to meet the demands of agitating doctors, failing which they will also go on strike. The Indian Medical Association has called a nationwide agitation on Monday.