A day after a BJP worker was attacked with sharp weapons and killed in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas, another party worker was found dead in a pond in East Bardhaman, triggering heated protests on Sunday.
The body of Sukhdev Pramanik was found in Purbasthali on the day police in North 24 Parganas said they had arrested three persons “with criminal backgrounds” in connection with the killing on Saturday of Saikat Bhawal, who headed a BJP local polling booth level committee in Halishahar.
The BJP, which has blamed the TMC for Bhawal’s murder, claimed that Pramanik was killed by workers of the ruling party after he took part in protests against the attack on BJP president J P Nadda’s motorcade in Kolkata. The TMC has rejected the charges.
The flare-up comes at a time when the BJP-led Centre and the TMC government are locked in a new tussle after stones were pelted by alleged Trinamool men at Nadda’s motorcade. The state government has rejected a move by the Union Home Ministry to summon to Delhi the three IPS officers who were responsible for providing security to the BJP chief.
In Purbasthali, police sources said that Pramanik, who was from Chandpara, had been missing since Friday. “Today, a body was recovered from a pond. It has been sent for postmortem. The actual cause of death can only be ascertained after postmortem,” said an official.
The incident triggered protests with local residents blocking a road for 2-3 hours and burning tyres. They prevented police from taking Pramanik’s body from the spot. The situation was resolved after police assured the protesters that a “proper investigation” will be conducted.
Burdwan police said that no written complaint has been received from Pramanik’s family so far. They said that injury marks were found under the eyes of the deceased, and that the body has been sent to Burdwan Medical College for autopsy.
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy called for President’s Rule and tweeted that Pramanik “was killed brutally by TMC’s criminals”. “Another day, another murder. Death of democracy. Death of conscience for TMC,” Roy wrote.
TMC leader and Minister Firhad Hakim responded that his party “doesn’t believe in violence and the politics of murder”.
In North 24 Parganas, the three persons arrested in the killing of Bhawal have been identified as Somnath Ganguly, Abhijit Das and Babai. Bhawal was newly married and had been actively taking part in a door-to-door campaign by the BJP.
Police did not disclose the political affiliation of the accused. But the BJP claimed that those arrested were close aides of TMC leaders. The TMC, however, claimed that the murder was the result of a power struggle within the BJP.
“Four people were named in the police complaint. Three of them were arrested in the morning and charged with murder, attempt to murder, assault and criminal conspiracy. They were produced before court and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days,” said an official.
On Sunday, BJP supporters took out a protest rally in Bizpur, Barrackpore and Halishahar, demanding a “fair probe” into the killing. They also gheraoed the police station in Bizpur, where the FIR has been lodged, leading to a minor clash between policemen and protesters.
BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son and party leader Subhrangshu Roy, and the party’s organisational chief Umashankar Singh, reached the spot where police have been deployed in large numbers. “It was a planned murder. All those who have been arrested are close aides of TMC leaders,” Subhrangshu Roy alleged.
“This has become the TMC’s policy in the run-up to the Assembly polls,” said Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. BJP MP Arjun Singh, who visited those injured in the attack, said: “The people will give an answer to the hooliganism of TMC.”
However, TMC Minister Hakim rejected the allegations. “TMC doesn’t believe in murder politics and has no links to this incident,” he said.
“It is a fight between new and old BJP leaders. This incident is the fallout of an old dispute. The TMC has nothing to do with it,” said Jyotipriya Mullick, the party’s district head in North 24 Paraganas.
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