Tension was reported in Kaliachak and Baishnabhnagar areas of West Bengal’s Malda district on Sunday after the death of a youth, who was allegedly beaten up by a group of people on June 26 on suspicion of involvement in a motorbike theft.
The protests began after the body of Shanaul Sheikh, 24, was brought to his hometown, Baishnabhnagar, in malda, on Sunday. Sources said Sheikh, who had suffered injuries in his private parts, eyes and ears, died in Kolkata after his condition deteriorated. He was referred to Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital by doctors at Malda Medical College and Hospital.
Sheikh is survived by his wife and a six-month-old daughter. “He was the family’s only earning member,” his mother Sufiya said. “He worked in a brick kiln. On Wednesday, some people called him outside and we heard later that he was being beaten up.”
Protests began on Sunday after the video of Sheikh getting beaten up became viral on social media. Sources in the police said protesters blocked National Highway 34 and ransacked shops and other establishments in Kaliachak.
It was learnt that a government bus was also vandalised, and that the police had to fire in the air to bring the situation under control.
“Protesters belonging to the minority community protested on NH 34 in Kaliachak area. They were protesting against the killing of a youth,” a police officer said. “A large contingent of police force has been deployed in the area. The situation is peaceful now.”
Kaliachak had seen communal violence in 2016 when a mob set fire to a police station and ransacked vehicles.
On Sunday, protests were also held outside Baishnabhnagar police station. Congress leader and Sujapur MLA Isha Khan Choudhury, who met Sheikh’s family, called for peace and demanded arrest of the accused.
Choudhury said: “The family members and residents wanted to take the body to Baishnabnagar police station to protest. I convinced them to perform the last rights and stop the protest. We demand arrest of people who killed Sheikh. I also asked the police to probe whether it was a communal incident.”
After he left Kaliachak, Choudhury said, “I heard there were some problems. Whoever takes law into their hands — from whichever community — should be punished. I appeal to all parties, including the BJP, to maintain peace. I have seen communal riots in Malda…prople from both communities suffer in such violence,”
BJP MLA from Baishnabnagar Swadhin Kumar Sarkar also demanded strict punishment to those who killed Sheikh.
He said, “No one has the right to take law in their hands. I have heard, he (Sheikh) was beaten up by some people for being a motorbike thief. Instead of beating him up, they should have called the police. We want strong punishment for those who have committed this crime.”
In the evening, police said they have arrested one person in connection with the incident.
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