Bengal rural polls: TMC leaders ready to highlight Afrajul Khan murder in Rajasthan
Trinamool Congress leaders have already held several protest rallies in different parts of Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee administration offered financial assistance and a job to a member of the victim family.kolkata Updated: Dec 28, 2017 13:30 IST
Ruling Trinamool Congress leaders are all set to use the brutal murder of construction worker from Malda, Afrajul Khan, in Rajasthan to campaign against BJP in the rural polls to be held in Bengal in the first half of 2018.
In a video that shocked the nation on December 7, Khan, 49, was seen being hacked to death by Sambhu Lal Regar, a self-confessed worker of the saffron camp, even as the labourer from Bengal kept begging for his life. Regar then set fire to his body and burst into a communal rant that was captured in the video.
Rajasthan Police later arrested both Regar and his nephew who shot the video on a phone. The incident took place in Rajsamand, about 340 km from state capital Jaipur.
The murder of the migrant labourer triggered strong public reaction all over Bengal with almost all parties strongly condemning the incident and organising rallies against it. However, the issue can be of particular importance in districts such as Malda (Muslims 51.27% of the population according to 2011 census), Murshidabad (66.27%), North Dinajpur (49.92%) Birbhum 37.06%) and South 24 Parganas (35.57%).
”Afrajul and his family members have been supporters of Trinamool Congress. After his murder we first rushed to the village with all kinds of help. The people of Bengal have seen reactions of the BJP leaders of this state after the murder. The peace loving people have rejected them in the assembly bypoll of Sabang. BJP is going to face the same consequences in the rural elections too,” said Dr Moajjem Hossain, Malda district president of Trinamool Congress.
“The party hasn’t yet finalised the issues of the campaign. But we are going to submit a proposal to highlight Afrajul Khan’s murder. If it is approved we can make arrangements to show the edited version of the murder video during our campaign,” said a senior district leader who wanted remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.
However, there are differing views in the ruling party. “The video churns the stomach. Worse, it may even fuel communal flare ups. So, it is debatable whether one should show these videos. But we can use pictures of Afrajul Khan in the posters and banners,” said another leader, who claimed to have informally discussed the apprehensions with party leaders.
Incidentally, TMC leaders have held several protest rallies in Malda and others areas of the state against the brutal murder.
“Very sad incident happened in Rajasthan. Afrajul Khan of Malda of our state was brutally killed. His family is totally helpless. As a small help to the bereaved family, our government has decided to provide Rs 3 lakh to the family,” Mamata Banerjee wrote on Twitter after the video went viral.
The Bengal government has also offered a job of one of the members of the family of Khan.
”We are also helping Khan’s family members to fight the legal battle. Senior lawyers of the party are also toying with the idea of filing a public interest litigation in Calcutta High Court. What is wrong if we bring forth the failure of the BJP government to protect a migrant labourer from minority community? I am sure the murder of Afrajul Khan will get due prominence, among other issues, during the panchayat election campaign,” said Hossain.
Trinamool Congress will start preparations for the selection of candidates for the rural polls after the publication of the draft voters’ list on December 28.
The polls are important as these are being considered as a rehearsal for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Bengal is a focus state for BJP with the party eyeing at least 22 of the 44 seats in the state.