As many as 75 people were arrested and 10,000 booked in connection with violence in run-up to the panchayat polls in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on April 6 and 7, police sources have said.
The FIR was filed after around 2,000 BJP workers clashed with police in Nalhati Friday; the next day, miscreants hurled bombs and fired bullets at a group of BJP workers and their supporters —many of them tribals — in Mohammad Bazar. The group retaliated by shooting arrows that left one injured.
“A large number of people from tribal community were part of the mob. About 56 people have been named in the FIR,” said a police officer. Police sources said many of those arrested are BJP workers and local residents. BJP leaders alleged that the FIR was lodged as part of a conspiracy to arrest BJP members. “It’s a plan of the ruling party (Trinamool Congress) and police to put maximum number of BJP workers behind bars by framing them,” Birbhum BJP unit chief Ramakrishna Roy told the media.
On Saturday, ADG, Law and Order, Anuj Sharma had said, “A large number of people had come from Jharkhand and engaged in violence. Police have evidence.” Those arrested have been charged under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 144 (unlawful assembly), 353 (criminal force to prevent public servant from doing his or her duty) and 435 (mischief by using explosive substances) of IPC. They were produced in court over the course of Saturday and Sunday and were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
On Friday, BJP workers had gathered in front of their Nalhati office, from where they were supposed to march to the BDO office to file nomination papers. However, police told them that only candidates and those who proposed their names could go. An altercation ensued and police resorted to lathicharge, following which BJP workers pelted stones. Rampurhat SDPO Mitun Kumar Dey was injured in the incident.