11 arrested after violence in Bengal's Birbhum kills eight people

Updated on Mar 22, 2022 06:39 PM IST

Birbhum fire: The tragic incident has triggered a predictable war of words between the ruling party and the opposition BJP, which has demanded imposition of President's Rule.

Birbhum, Mar 22 (ANI): Firemen douse the fire at the incident site where several houses were allegedly set on fire leaving eight people dead, at Rampurhat, in Birbhum on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)(Shyamal Maitra)
Birbhum, Mar 22 (ANI): Firemen douse the fire at the incident site where several houses were allegedly set on fire leaving eight people dead, at Rampurhat, in Birbhum on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)(Shyamal Maitra)

Eleven people have been arrested after violence in Bengal's Birbhum killed eight, including two children, early Tuesday morning, news agency PTI said. All eight died after houses in Bogtui village were allegedly set on fire following the death of Bhadu Sheikh - the deputy chief of the Barshal gram panchayat and a resident of Bogtui - in a bomb attack late on Monday night, police reported. The Barshal panchayat is controlled by the ruling Trinamool Congress.

"The situation is now under control and a police picket has been established in the village since last night. We are investigating how the houses caught fire and whether the incident is related to the death of the Trinamool panchayat leader, which appears to be due to a deep-rooted personal enmity," Manoj Malaviya, acting DGP of Bengal Police, was quoted by PTI.

Asked about claims by some fire officials that 10 bodies had been found, Malviya said only seven had been found after the fire was brought under control. Three injured people had been rescued; one died while being treated in a hospital.

A SIT, or special investigation team, has been set up, Malviya said. The SIT will be led by Additional Director General of Police (CID) Gyanwant Singh.

Senior officers at the Rampurhat police station - which has jurisdiction - have been removed from active duty, Malviya added.

The Trinamool, meanwhile, has sent a three-member MLA team, led by minister Firhad Hakim, to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, the incident has triggered a predictable war of words between the ruling party and the BJP, which has demanded imposition of President's Rule.

BJP MLAs walked out of the Assembly demanding chief minister Mamata Banerjee make a statement on the floor. Shouting 'Vande Mataram' and 'Dhikkar Dhikkar' (we condemn), MLA Shankar Ghosh and 40 others walked out.

Ghosh also declared the BJP wanted Mamata Banerjee to resign for her 'failure to control the worsening law and order situation' in the state.

Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar - who has a running feud with Banerjee - called the violence as an 'arson orgy'.

The Bengal unit of the BJP has written to union home minister Amit Shah and asked him to intervene, citing 'unabated post-poll violence and deteriorating law and order situation'.

The BJP and the Trinamool have been at loggerheads for over a year now - starting with vicious spats and exchange of allegations in the build-up to last year's Bengal election.

More accusations and bitter claims followed the result - a thumping win for the Trinamool - with both sides claiming the other is instigating violence to discredit its rival.

"… use of explosives and firearms points to terrorists used by Trinamool to settle political scores and to spread terror among citizens," the BJP claimed to Shah.

Trinamool general secretary Kunal Ghosh has rubbished the allegations. He claimed the fire was accidental and that the administration had already done the needful.

The Bengal government will take stringent action against those responsible, minister Partha Chatterjee told the state Assembly, adding that efforts were being made to restore normalcy.

With input from ANI, PTI

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