While state BJP leaders are taking turns to visit Islampur to protest over the recent deaths of two college students in a clash, the fathers of the deceased were quietly escorted out of Daribhit village by party workers Saturday evening, and put on a plane to the national capital.
In Delhi, the fathers of Rajesh Sarkar and Tapas Burman — Nilkamal and Badal — met the National Human Rights Commission chairman, and BJP president Amit Shah. Sources said they are also trying to get an appointment to meet President Ram Nath Kovind.
The move, coupled with rumours of the state BJP president paying a visit to North Dinajpur, and a central leader doing the same, indicated that BJP intends to raise the issue both nationally and locally, at a time when the Lok Sabha polls are not too far away.
On September 20, students and local residents — who were protesting against the appointment of two new teachers in Urdu and Sanskrit in the local Daribhit High School (they had been demanding teachers for science and other subjects) — clashed with police who allegedly resorted to lathicharge, lobbed tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets. Rajesh and Tapas sustained bullet injuries in the clash. Both were former students of the school. While local residents claimed they were killed in police firing, the latter denied the allegation.
“Two students were shot dead by police. We will launch an agitation throughout the state. We will also highlight the issue in Delhi and try and help family members of the victims get justice,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh. “We will plan the next course of action,” said Mukul Roy, member of the BJP national executive committee.
“A dharna has already been initiated at Islampur demanding justice for the victims. Our state leadership including Raju Banerjee, myself and Locket Chatterjee will take turns to participate in the agitation. Family members of the victims will also meet the central leadership in Delhi and narrate their plight,” said Sayantan Basu, BJP state general secretary.
A state BJP delegation met also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who arrived in Delhi Sunday, at Raj Bhavan.
“We have told Rajnath Singhji that only a CBI probe can unravel the truth in the killing of two party workers in Purulia in June and the gunning down of two students in Islampur in September…,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha told reporters, said a PTI report.
“They left on Saturday evening. The situation is tense here and therefore we kept it under wraps. Local TMC leadership has offered us Rs 5 Lakh and a job for my daughter. But we have refused the offer. All we want is a CBI inquiry and the guilty persons to be punished,” said Tapas’s mother Manju Burman.
The TMC, meanwhile, has also scheduled a series of rallies in Islampur, apart from pressing the local leadership in the area. On September 26, it had held a public meeting where state Transport Minister and party observer for the district Suvendu Aadhikari addressed a gathering of party workers. The ruling party is also planning a series of public meetings targeting BJP. “There was no firing by police. Outsiders who had covered their faces with cloth were present. They are the culprits. Of those arrested for vandalism during BJP’s bandh on September 26, some were Bihar and UP. We will hold a public meeting and rallies to maintain peace. BJP is trying to create trouble in the area,” said Kanhaiyalal Agarwal, a local TMC MLA.
The party is planning to hold a public meeting in Islampur on October 4, where state leaders and ministers may address the gathering. Senior TMC leader Sovondeb Chatterjee said, “BJP may go ahead with anything they want and meet the president. With due respect to the president, law and order is a state subject.”
Islampur is located near the Bangladesh border. In the 2016 Assembly polls, Kanhaiyalal Agarwal had won there on a Congress ticket with 43.88% votes, defeating TMC’s Abdul Karim Choudhury(38.71% votes). BJP’s Saumyaroop Mondol stood third with a 12.49% vote share. However, Agarwal had later joined TMC.