Fresh clashes were reported on Tuesday in Kankinara area under Bhatpara Assembly constituency of West Bengal, which voted in the bypolls on Sunday. Train services in Sealdah division were disrupted following a rail blockade by protesters at Kankinara, as clashes continued between supporters of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
Leaders and supporters blamed each other for the violence.
Despite prohibitory orders issued in the area, clashes were reported between two groups, and unidentified men hurled a crude bomb outside Kankinara railway station. No one was injured, the police said.
Panicked passengers and local people were seen running for cover as armed miscreants moved around the area.
Clashing groups threw stones at each other near the level crossing gate in Kankinara, leading to disruption of train services on Sealdah-Naihati section of Eastern Railways’ Sealdah Division for more than three hours. Police, RAF and Central Armed Police Forces personnel have been deployed in the area to maintain law and order.
“The Eastern Railways [ER] maintained services up to Barrackpore on the up line and up to Naihati on down direction. Normal services were restored at 12.04 pm. Seventeen EMU trains were detained en route…. ER had to cancel seven pairs of EMU locals. Seven EMU trains were terminated short of destination,” according to a statement from the Railways.
Barrackpore DCP (Zone-I) K Kannan said 70 people have been arrested so far for alleged involvement in the violence at Bhatpara since Sunday. Around 200 companies of central forces have been retained in West Bengal until May 27 to tackle possible post-poll violence.
State minister and Trinamool Congress’s district president Jyoti Priya Mullick accused Arjun Singh, BJP’s Lok Sabha election candidate from Barrackpore, of inciting violence in the area. Mullick alleged that several houses and shops of TMC supporters were vandalised and ransacked by Singh’s supporters.
Mullick said: “Around 15 people were injured in violence in the area (since Sunday’s polling). At least 200 houses have been vandalised and 80 houses burnt — they all belong to TMC supporters. Nearly 75 shops have been damaged. The BJP knows it will be defeated and its workers are reacting in frustration.”
BJP supporters, however, claimed that ever since polling ended, TMC men have been identifying BJP workers and “harassing” them. “Many of them have left their homes — it’s scary. There is no democracy in Bengal. With police’s help, they are picking up everyone who worked for BJP in the area,” a BJP supporter said on the condition of anonymity.
The youth wing of the TMC also submitted a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer on the violence in Bhatpara. “I would draw your attention towards the heinous activities of BJP under the instructions of BJP leader Arjun Singh where the house of TMC leader Dharampal Gupta…was attacked…”
Arjun Singh said, “Voting was peaceful till 2 pm in Bhatpara. Violence started from Naya Bazar area of Kankinara after the TMC saw a huge turnout of Hindi-speaking voters in the area. I was attacked with bombs… Several houses were burnt by goons backed by TMC.. It is nothing but utter frustration of the TMC…”
BJP leader Kailash Vijaywargiya tweeted, “Police is playing the role of mere spectator in Bhatpara.” —(With PTI)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines