Even as the West Bengal government ordered a CID probe into the shooting of a BJP leader by unidentified assailants in North 24 Parganas’ Titagarh area, the victim’s father alleged a conspiracy by the ruling TMC and demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
Standing outside his house in Khardah, Chandra Mani Shukla (65), father of BJP leader Manish Shukla said, “I have learnt he was killed with a carbine machine gun. Either Army personnel or police use such guns. My son had a licenced gun, but police cancelled the licence eight months, despite knowing that he faced life threats. The police are hand in glove with the state government and we have no faith in them. We want a CBI probe.”
Meanwhile, local people hit the streets and slammed the police for alleged inaction. A huge contingent of policemen, Rapid Action Force and Combat Force was deployed in the area. CID officers arrived to collect evidence and conduct videography, and the police posted a tweet asking people not to jump to conclusions.
A close aide of BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh, Manish (39) was shot after returning from a meeting in Habra. He was chatting with party workers at a tea stall adjoining a makeshift BJP office when masked gunmen opened fire. He is survived by his parents, wife and two children.
Manish was with the CPM before joining the TMC in 2009. He became a councillor at Titagarh Municipality in 2015. Following Singh’s victory in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Manish defected to the BJP. Since then, he was known to be behind the BJP’s rise in Titagarh area. Sources said that 16 criminal cases were lodged against him.
“They (TMC) may have thought that their position was weakened after his defection, and that’s why my son was targeted,” said Manish’s father.
A BJP team led by party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya visited their house on Monday.
Known as a social worker, Manish ran 18 community kitchens in Titagarh during the lockdown and organised blood donation camps. “He was known for mobilising support for any political party, and that’s why he was valued by all parties,” said local BJP worker Akash Shaw. He claimed that there had been earlier attempts to kill Manish following his defection to the TMC.
Suraj Seth (40) was just metres from Manish when the gunmen fired at him. “Assailants in three motorbikes appeared and opened fire. He fell to the ground immediately. Another local boy, Govind, also sustained bullet injury. Titagarh police station is opposite our party office and policemen were standing there. The CCTV cameras from the area have gone missing,” said the BJP worker.
CCTV cameras installed at a medical store, located at the spot, are missing.
Local BJP workers pointed fingers at Titagarh municipality chairman Prashanta Chowdhury and Barrackpore municipality chairman Uttam Das for allegedly masterminding the attack.
Singh alleged, “The police are involved in this. Arms used by policemen were used to kill our leader — 9 mm carbine machine guns are used by West Bengal Police. The criminals came from the house of TMC leader and party’s chief whip in Assembly Nirmal Ghosh.”
Ghosh denied the allegations. “It is a fallout of the BJP’s internal fight. Our party is not involved,” he said.
Sources said Manish was given responsibility by the BJP to ensure victory in Barrackpore segment in 2021 Assembly polls. “Manish was asked to return to the TMC, but he refused. The BJP gave him the task to look after Barrackpore seat. This would have resulted in a direct clash with TMC leaders,” said a local party leader.
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