West Bengal: Violence over panchayat board formation; 4 killed

The Asian Age.

Metros, Kolkata

The 2 BJP workers were killed in two separate districts

Preliminary investigation revealed that a group of Trinamul workers who came on motorcycles hurled bombs targeting Sirajul Islam, also winning candidate of the ruling party. (Photo: File/Representational)

Kolkata: Four persons, including two BJP workers, were killed in two separate districts on Monday during violent clashes which broke out over the panchayat bodies’ boards formation across the state. The two BJP workers —  Niranjan Gope and Damodar Mondal — were allegedly shot dead at Joypur in Purulia, a district in Jangalmahal which witnessed the saffron party’s rise in votebank among the tribal community in the Panchayat polls. The BJP accused the police of gunning down them.

But the police rejected the allegation. The process of Panchayat boards’ formation got underway at different blocks at Joypur and Raghunathpur of the district in the morning. BJP Purulia district president Bidyasagar Chakraborty alleged, “The Trinamul unleashed terror at Ghagra gram panchayat of Joypur to take control of the rural body by force. Its workers hurled bombs and fired bullets. Our workers also resisted them. Then the police acted at the behest of the ruling party. They opened fire killing two of our workers.” He added that nearly a dozen BJP workers was injured. Echoing him state BJP spokesperson Sayantan Basu said, “Four panchayat boards were to be formed at Joypur. Out of it the BJP had absolute majority. We formed two Panchayat boards. When we were going to form the third one where we had majority also, our Pradhan (head of the board) was physically prevented and was taken away. Later a Trinamul candidate was declared as Pradhan. In protest around 5,000 BJP workers laid a siege there.”

Mr Basu complained, “The police came to the spot and opened fire on them. In Purulia the Trinamul, mafia and the police have joined hands to resist the BJP. Entire Raghunathpur sub division has turned into a battle-field. The BJP’s winning candidates were prevented from forming the board there.” An assistant sub inspector of the Saturi police station: Narayan Mukherjee was injured after he was hit by a brick during a clash between the Trinamul and BJP workers there. He has been admitted to a hospital.

Superintendent of police (Purulia) Akash Megharia was not available for comment. But a senior police officer at state secretariat: Nabanna later denied on anonymity of any death due to police firing in Purulia. In Malda a Trinamul worker and a youth were killed while a labourer’s child was injured during a clash due to a faction feud within the ruling party. Trouble erupted at Hukumattola over the appointment of Pradhan of the board which was to be formed for Gopalpur gram panchayat with 10 seats at Manickchak.

The Trinamul won five seats earlier. A division became prominent after five winning candidates from the Congress recently defected to the Trinamul. Two groups of Trinamul workers started hurling bombs at each other since morning. Salam Sheikh (20), a Trinamul activist, and Azhar Sheikh (60) were killed. Zeeshan Sheikh (3) who was playing in front of his home was caught in the clash. He suffered head injuries after a splinter of the bomb hit him. He has been admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a group of Trinamul workers who came on motorcycles hurled bombs targeting Sirajul Islam, also winning candidate of the ruling party. But the bombs missed the target and it hit Salam, Azhar and Zeeshan. Superintendent of police (Malda) Arnab Ghosh later visited the spot.

Mamata Banerjee pulls up ministers at meet
Worried over the violent clashes over the panchayat bodies’ boards formation, chief minister Mamata Banerjee pulled up ministers during a Cabinet meeting on Monday. She expressed her anguish before directing them to tackle the violence during the rural bodies’ formation process.

Ms Banerjee made it clear that she would not tolerate any untoward incident and she would take strong action, according to sources. The Trinamul Congress supremo asked food supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mullick who is also the party’s district president of North 24 Parganas about the attack of party MLA Rohima Mondal, sources revealed adding that she also wanted to know why the incident took place while cautioning him.

Besides Mr Mullick some other ministers who are in key positions in other districts have also been warned. Among them was Shubhendu Adhikary who is the transport minister. He has been advised by the chief minister to ensure no violence during the process at Jhargram in the Jangalmahal where the BJP’s vote bank grew significantly also.