Three days after an 18-year-old member of the BJP’s youth wing was found hanging from a tree in Balarampur in West Bengal’s Purulia district, a second BJP worker has been found dead in another village in the same area.
Dulal Kumar, 32, a member of the local BJP OBC cell, was found hanging from an electricity transmission tower in Balarampur’s Dabha village Saturday. As the BJP accused the Trinamool Congress of carrying out a campaign of political murders, the state government called in the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe both deaths, and removed the district superintendent of police.
Hours before he was sent to the state Armed Police, Purulia SP Joy Biswas had told The Sunday Express that prima facie it appeared that Dulal Kumar had committed suicide, while the earlier death — that of Trilochan Mahato in Balarampur’s Supurdi village on May 30 — had been murder due to personal enmity.
“He (Kumar) had gone out to attend to nature’s call and did not come back. People had been searching for him since last night, and he was finally found hanging from a high-tension pole in Dabha village. Prima facie it looks like a case of suicide unlike Trilochan Mahato’s case, which was clearly murder. Preliminary investigation has revealed that Mahato’s murder was the fallout of personal enmity. We haven’t found any political angle in that (Mahato’s) case yet. Investigations are on in both cases,” Biswas had said.
Soon afterward, a notification was issued from Nabanno, the state government secretariat in Howrah, replacing the SP with CID senior superintendent Akash Magharia.
ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said, “We have ordered a CID probe into both cases. The role of outsiders, too, is being looked into.”
Kumar’s wife Monika alleged her husband had been killed by the Trinamool. “He had received threats and has been murdered by TMC goons,” she said. Local BJP workers in Balarampur said Kumar had been among those who had been protesting against the alleged murder of Mahato.
“He took part in a thana gherao programme yesterday to protest Trilochan Mahato’s murder. He returned to his house for a while before leaving again in the evening to attend to some personal work. He did not return. Calls made to his mobile number were disconnected,” a BJP worker told The Sunday Express.
Sources in Balarampur said Kumar’s motorcycle had been found near a pond before his body was discovered around 5.45 am Saturday. The incident triggered tension in the area, and police were pelted with stones as local people demonstrated with the body. Police resorted to a lathicharge to scatter the crowd.
State BJP leaders, including Mukul Roy, rushed to Balarampur. The party has called a 12-hour strike to protest the alleged murders of Mahato and Kumar.
In two posts on Twitter, BJP president Amit Shah said: “Distressed to know about yet another killing of BJP karyakarta Dulal Kumar in Balrampur, West Bengal. This continued brutality and violence in the land of West Bengal is shameful and inhuman. Mamata Banerjee’s govt has completely failed to maintain law and order in the state. I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved family. I along with millions of BJP karyakartas share the grief of Dulal Kumar’s family. May god give his family the strength to withstand this irreparable loss. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.”
In Kolkata, union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar described Kumar’s death as a “rajnaitik hatya”, and said political murders had become endemic in the state. “There has been one political murder after another in West Bengal. This has become a part of the political culture here. The BJP has lost 19 workers to political murders during the process of the panchayat elections,” Javadekar said.
“Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar have both been hanged in a most inhuman way for being BJP workers in an area where we have done well. If there were actually free and fair elections, we would have swept Purulia district in the panchayat elections,” Javadekar said.
The BJP emerged as the main opposition to the Trinamool in the panchayat elections, and did particularly well in Balarampur, where it defeated the Trinamool to win a majority in seven gram panchayats and the panchayat samiti. Both Kumar and Mahato were actively involved in the elections, and Kumar, a farmer’s son, was known as a “sincere BJP worker” with a good network in the area, sources said.
In Ahmedabad, union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said BJP workers were being killed “only because they want development to go further, because they want to put the nation first… their only fault is that they are in favour of rashtravaad, that they are BJP workers”.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha demanded an investigation by the CBI into the two deaths. “Just like Trilochan Mahato, Dulal too was found hanging in Balrampur. TMC has lost its base in Purulia and now they have joined hands with Maoists in killing BJP workers. We want a CBI probe in both cases,” he said.
The TMC too demanded a probe.
“We strongly condemn this despicable killing. All angles must be probed. The perpetrators of this heinous act must be punished. What role did Jharkhand border have to play? What elements of Bajrang Dal, Maoist or BJP involved. Let the truth be found out through proper investigation,” MP Derek O’Brien tweeted.
Soon after the CID probe was announced, O’Brien posted, “As swift as swift can be. Case handed over to CID.”
TMC MLA of Balarampur Shantiram Mahato assured a proper investigation, and asked people to wait for the report of the post mortem examination before jumping to conclusions.