2 killed, 5 injured as fresh violence hits West Bengal
The injured were taken to a hospital in Kolkata, where they were undergoing surgeries and are reportedly in critical condition, locals were quoted by news channels as saying.Updated: Jun 21, 2019 08:01 IST
Two persons were shot dead and five wounded on Thursday in Bhatpara area of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district following clashes between two groups, even as ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) traded charges over the latest outbreak of violence in the state.
Authorities imposed Section 144, prohibiting assembly of more than four persons, in Bhatpara and Jagatdal areas of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district as local police struggled to restore order in the area after groups of miscreants allegedly attacked locals with crude bombs and firearms.
The injured were taken to a hospital in Kolkata, where they were undergoing surgeries and are reportedly in critical condition, locals were quoted by news channels as saying.
The clashes started around 10.30am with reports of crude bombs being thrown in the area. CCTV footages aired on local television news channels showed men, their faces covered with pieces of cloth, hurling crude bombs down a narrow lane.
Rapid Action Force and Quick Response Teams were deployed to bring the situation on the control, district officials said.
A few hours after the clash, crude bombs were seen lying on the streets in the area. Locals also pointed out a bullet hole in a steel shutter of a shop. Officers said the hole indicated firing from high-calibre weapon.
After a meeting at the state secretariat with the chief secretary and senior police officers, home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibiting the assembly of more than four persons have been imposed on areas under Bhatpara and Jagaddal police stations.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) West Bengal president and Lok Sabha MP Dilip Ghosh and Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh alleged that the police had opened fire on locals in the area. Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said that the local police have turned “trigger-happy” and alleged West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was responsible for the clashes.
“A BJP delegation would visit the area and meet the family members of the deceased. We will also send a report to the Centre,” said BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Bandyopadhyay did not comment on whether the police resorted to firing.
The additional director general of police (south Bengal) was given special charge of Barrackpore Police to restore order in the area. In the afternoon, the director general of police was asked to visit the area even as a crowd threw stones at the vehicle of assistant commissioner of Barrackpore Police.
Officials said that the chief minister expressed deep unhappiness at the ongoing violence and the failure of the police in seizing weapons in the area. “She ordered arrests irrespective of political colour,” an officer told reporters.
One of those who died was identified as Rambabu Shaw, a roadside vendor. He was hit by a bullet in his head, one of his relative told reporters. The other person who died in the clashes was identified by locals as Dharamvir Shaw.
“Clashes are taking place all over the state and there is anarchy everywhere. Both the persons fell to police bullets,” said Vijayvargiya.
Keeping poll and post-poll violence in mind, the Barrackpore Police Commissionerate had decided to set up a new police station in Bhatpara to bring the law and order situation under control. The facility is yet to be inaugurated.
Barrackpore BJP MP Arjun Singh blamed the police for the deaths and the failure to restore law and order in the area. “Both were killed by the police,” Singh said.
Countering the BJP comments, North 24 Parganas TMC district chief Jyoti Priya Mallick alleged that the clashes were a result of infighting among BJP workers.
TMC minister Tapas Roy said, “Those who did not want a new police station to be set up in the area were fanning trouble in the area.”
“Arjun Singh and his followers are indulging in politics of violence. The police are trying to restore order,” said TMC’s Madan Mitra, former minister who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly bypoll in Bhatpara last month.
Incidentally, Bhatpara and Kankinara areas suffered violence for a few days since the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 19.
The area turned restive after four-time TMC legislator Arjun Singh switched over to the BJP before the polls and defeated the ruling party candidate in the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency.