Three persons were killed and several injured in clashes between TMC and BJP workers over the formation of gram panchayat boards across the state Monday. In Malda district’s Kaliachak area, two persons including a TMC worker were killed. One person died in Purulia district’s Joypur area, who BJP leaders claimed belonged to their party.
In a tweet, the Bengal police said three of their personnel were badly injured in an “unprovoked attack”. Violence was also reported from Deganga, Canning, Falakata and Chopra. At Chopra in North Dinajpur district, a clash broke out between Congress workers and the police over panchayat board formation. At Deganga in North 24 Parganas district, TMC workers clashed with BJP activists. At Falakata in Alipurduar, another clash between the parties was reported.
The clashes took place two days after violence was reported from North Dinajpur. One person was killed and several injured in a blast in Islampur. The deceased was identified as Panchayat Pradhan Lal Mohammad (50). Six persons were arrested.
In Purulia’s Joypur area, one person identified as Narayan Gop and four persons were injured in violence over the formation of the Ghagra gram panchayat board. Sources said Gop was a panchayat member. “Prima facie, his body was recovered from Ghagra village. The cause of death is uncertain. His body has been sent for post-mortem to ascertain if he died of a bullet injury. There were constant attacks on the police, people were pelting stones. To control the crowd, police used tear gas. Police did open fire, but it was to control the situation. The firing was not targeted at anyone and no one was injured in the firing,” a senior police officer said.
While BJP claimed Gop was a party worker, police refused to comment on the same. “In Purulia’s Raghunathpur area, our winning candidates were prevented from forming the panchayat board. TMC workers hurled bombs to terrorise our workers. In Joypur, one of our workers were killed in police firing. We are getting reports that another of our workers has been killed. The TMC and police are targeting our workers to prevent us from forming boards. There is no democracy in the state. Every day, the number of deaths is rising. We will bring this to the notice of the Centre and Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and urge them to ensure law and order is restored,” said state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu. The district TMC leadership also denied the claims. “These are baseless allegations. The BJP is bringing in outsiders from Jharkhand to create trouble here. No one was killed in police firing here,” said Shantiram Mahato, TMC’s Purulia president.
Two persons were killed in Malda district’s Kaliachak area over formation of the Gopalpur gram panchayat board. Sources said the deceased had been identified as Salam Sheikh (20), a TMC worker, and Azhar Sheikh (50), a local reaident.
Sources further said that the violence was triggered by an argument between two TMC groups over who will become the Gopalpur gram panchayat pradhan. While Salam died on the spot, Azhar was declared dead at the Malda Medical College and Hospital. A huge contingent of police personnel has been deployed in the area. “Three persons have been arrested in connection with the violence,” said a local police officer, adding that the bodies have been sent for post-mortem.
In a Cabinet meeting at the state secretariat on Monday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked state ministers to monitor the panchayat board formation procedure in their respective districts.
“I will make an appeal to everyone to maintain peace here. Every death is painful and unfortunate and I do not support it. Police have been attacked as well…Let the rural bodies be elected by locals only. Let them sort their differences out. These are local elections and there should not be any competition. There is no need to bring in outsiders from Bihar and Jharkhand to create trouble. We also got information that the central force is escorting such people to the state. We are yet to get evidence but we have got information. Everybody should work within their jurisdiction and as per law. In panchayats, personal enmity also plays a part and results in violence. We don’t support it,” she said.
On Monday, the Bengal police tweeted: “Today an unfortunate incident was reported from Joypur, Purulia where an unruly and armed mob including outsiders attacked policemen on duty. Police dispersed the unruly mob. Three police personnel got badly injured and are in ICU, of whom the condition of one is grave…We condemn such an unprovoked attack on policemen on bonafide duty.”