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Monday, October 19, 2020

Bengal: BJP workers block roads, clash with cops

As part of a 12-hour bandh in Barrackpore area to protest the killing, BJP workers and supporters burnt tyres and blocked major thoroughfares, including BT Road, Barrackpore-Barasat Road and Kalyani Expressway, which brought traffic to a complete standstill.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata, Titagarh | October 6, 2020 6:05:49 am
BJP worker shot dead, BJP worker murder, Bengal BJP workers protest, BJP leaders protest killing, KOlkata news, Bengal news, Indian expressThe body of BJP leader Manish Shukla being escorted out of Kolkata’s NRS Hospital by police vehicles on Monday. (Photo: Partha Paul)

A day after BJP leader Manish Shukla was shot dead by unidentified assailants, clashes broke out in Titagarh area on Monday as police tried to stop BJP supporters from blocking roads to protest the murder. Meanwhile, BJP leaders made a beeline outside Shukla’s Titagarh residence, while chaos ensued over the release of his body from NRS Medical College and Hospital after the post-mortem examination was conducted.

As part of a 12-hour bandh in Barrackpore area to protest the killing, BJP workers and supporters burnt tyres and blocked major thoroughfares, including BT Road, Barrackpore-Barasat Road and Kalyani Expressway, which brought traffic to a complete standstill.

At 3 pm, as police tried to lift the blockade, a clash ensued. While BJP supporters and local residents hurled bombs and bricks, police in retaliation lobbed tear gas shells. Police also resorted to lathicharge and ransacked the makeshift BJP party office opposite Titagarh police station where party workers had assembled. A huge contingent of police led by Barrackpore Police Commissioner Manoj Verma patrolled the area to bring the situation under control.

“Investigation is on. Three incidents took place today but the situation is under control now. We have sufficient force. The road blockades have been successfully lifted,” said Verma.

Earlier in the day, a BJP delegation led by party’s national vice- president Mukul Roy and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya met Shukla’s family members.

The BJP leadership blamed the Trinamool Congress for the incident. “It is shameful that the TMC has now started politics of annihilation of political opponents. We don’t have any faith in local police as this happened in front of the police station. We want a CBI inquiry,” Vijayvargiya said.

He added, “Our leaders are being killed across the state and those deaths are being described as suicides. The police are being used by the TMC to kill our workers. In the upcoming election, the people of the state will throw TMC out of power for its misdeeds.”

Barrackpore BJP MP Arjun Singh also accused TMC of killing Shukla and claimed that shots were fired at him from a carbine.

However, senior TMC leader and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim alleged BJP conspired to kill Shukla.. He said Shukla joined the BJP as Arjun Singh mounted pressure on him.

He said, “I knew Manish Shukla… Shukla was not happy in BJP and wanted to return to TMC. He had confided this to his close aides. Criminals in West Bengal do not use these kinds of weapons. Some criminals had come to the state from outside to give protection and support to Arjun Singh during Lok Sabha polls. Were these criminals brought from outside this time? Both Shukla and Arjun Singh were travelling in the same car yesterday. Why did Arjun Singh abandon Shukla all of a sudden after receiving a call from Kailash Vijayvargiya? Why did he come to Kolkata leaving Shukla? Why Shukla’s bodyguard were not present with him yesterday? There are a lot of questions which needs to be answered. Is this not a conspiracy?”

Countering Hakim, Singh said, “Firhad Hakim is staging a drama. It is not easy to kill Manish Shukla. People will give them a befitting reply when they will be stripped of their posts.”

Meanwhile, a BJP delegation, comprising party’s national secretary Arvind Menon, Vijayvargiya and Singh, went to the NRS Medical College and Hospital where Shukla’s post-mortem examination was conducted. However, police initially refused to allow them inside the premises, following which BJP workers were seen jostling with them. Later, a few senior BJP leaders were allowed to enter the hospital, a police officer said.

Around 6 pm, Shukla’s body was released from the hospital.

Later, a heated exchange broke out between BJP leaders and police in central Kolkata after the party supporters were denied permission to take the Shukla’s body to Raj Bhavan. Police put up barricades and stopped the convoy on SN Banerjee Road and told BJP leaders that it could not allow them to take the body as section 144 of CrPC had been imposed around Raj Bhavan.

Later a seven-member delegation, including Shukla’s father, was allowed to visit Raj Bhavan on the condition that they would take the body back to Titagarh.

Led by Arjun Singh, the delegation met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, prayed for his intervention and demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.

“We have no faith in the state police. It has no credibility to probe the matter. We want a CBI probe in this. We have urged the Governor to use his constitutional power to look into the matter. He has assured us that he will try his best,” said Singh after meeting Dhankhar.

From Raj Bhavan, the body of Shukla was taken to his Khardah house and then to the local party office. From there a procession was held with the body in Khardah and Titagarh. Finally, It was cremated at a local burning ghat.

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