3 held for violence, killings at anti-CAA agitation in Bengal’s Murshidabad
The killings came two days after chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged her arch-rival the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M) and the Congress to put aside “narrow political differences” and jointly fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre.Updated: Jan 30, 2020, 18:58 IST
The police in Bengal’s Murshidabad district have arrested three men in connection with Wednesday’s murder of a teenager and a 55-year-old man at Sahebnagar village in the Jalangi police station area.
On Wednesday morning, some people were observing a bandh under the banner of ‘CAA Birodhi Nagarik Mancha’ (a citizen’s forum against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act) when they were allegedly attacked with guns and bombs by followers of the Jalangi (North) block Trinamool Congress president Tohiruddin Mondal.
Anarul Biswas, 55, and Salauddin Sheikh, 17, were killed and three people were injured. Denying the allegation, Mondal said the protesters attacked him and his associates. He also alleged that his brother sustained gunshot wounds. The incident took place near a market.
The killings came two days after chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged her arch-rival the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M) and the Congress to put aside “narrow political differences” and jointly fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre as West Bengal became the fourth state to pass an assembly resolution against the CAA on Monday.
Berhampore’s Congress MP and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Chowdhury on Wednesday said, “When Mamata Banerjee was in the opposition in Bengal she used to call bandhs and block roads over numerous issues. But now, when anyone observes bandh, she counts him or her as her personal enemy. She wants to be the sole face of the anti-CAA agitation in Bengal. That is why her party men dared to attack the bandh supporters and kill them.”
Requesting anonymity, a local TMC leader from the area said, “Mondal was feeling insecure as Congress and CPI (M) men have been successfully holding anti-CAA demonstrations under the banner of the Mancha for the past 15 days and many TMC supporters were seen taking part in them.”
Superintendent of Police, A S Yadav said, “We have received two complaints and three people have been arrested. Two of them are named in the FIR. Raids are on to arrest the others. The situation is now under control.”
An officer of Jalangi police station said, “We have received complaints of murder against 10 people, including Tohiruddin Mondal. FIR has been lodged. We have arrested three men, Rafikul Islam, Abul Kalam and Koran Sheikh.”
“Mondal cannot be traced. He is named in the FIR. His mobile phone is switched off,” the officer added. No police officer commented on the political background of the arrested men.
HT had managed to contact Mondal on Wednesday evening, hours after the violence. He said, “Will anyone ever believe that I tried to kill my own brother? Some Congress and CPM-backed goons blocked the road with chairs, tables and logs. I don’t have any information about any bandh in the area. When I reached there some people surrounded my car and damaged it. They also attacked the house of the local gram panchayat pradhan.”
On Thursday morning, a few thousand people blocked the Berhampore-Sagarpara state highway for six hours demanding suspension of the officer-in-charge of Jalangi police station, Utpal Das, and Mondal’s arrest. They kept the bodies of the deceased (which were handed over to the families after post mortem examination) on the road and shouted slogans. The blockade was lifted after senior police officers assured them that action would be taken.
Julfikar Biswas, a resident of the Sahebnagar area, said, “Tohiruddin and his brother Mantu Mondal started the violence. There are eyewitnesses.”
Jalangi’s TMC legislator, Abdur Razzak, said Mantu Mondal does not hold any portfolio in the party. “I have heard that Tohiruddin and his brother went to the spot when someone told them that one of our leaders had been attacked by the bandh supporters.”
Murshidabad district TMC president Abu Taher Khan said, “We have not yet taken any decision on disciplinary action against Tohiruddin Mondal. However, we have requested the police to probe the case impartially.”
“If Tohiruddin is found guilty in the probe, the TMC will not shield him,” said Khan.