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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

BJP, TMC lock horns over deaths of 2 men in alleged police firing in West Bengal

The families of both the victims have demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, and refused to cremate their bodies until then.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2018 00:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Villagers and family members of the two victims, Rajesh Sarkar, 19, and Tapash Burman, 21, have refused to cremate the bodies.
Villagers and family members of the two victims, Rajesh Sarkar, 19, and Tapash Burman, 21, have refused to cremate the bodies.(HT Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal has called for a 12-hour statewide strike in protest against the death of two men in alleged police firing in North Dinajpur district over recruitment of teachers in a high school, a leader said Saturday.

Rajesh Sarkar, 19, and Tapash Burman, 21, both former students of Darivit High School in Islampur where the violence over appointment of Urdu and Sanskrit teachers took place Thursday, died of bullet injuries, even as North Dinajpur superintendent of police Sumit Kumar denied claims the police had opened fire.

The SP, however, admitted that the students had received bullet injuries and had said the police were investigating who had opened fire. Kumar added eight people have been arrested in connection with the clash.

The families of both the victims have demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, and refused to cremate their bodies until then.

Villagers told CPI(M) leaders Sujan Chakraborty and Ashok Bhattacharya who met the families at their homes in Daribhita village that they have buried the two bodies and are keeping watch over the graves so that the bodies are not taken out and cremated.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in Milan (Italy), released a statement vowing to keep the situation normal in the state, while alleging the role of BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in spreading communal tension in the region.

“The deaths are unfortunate. But the police did not open fire. It was the goons. The BJP and the RSS are playing with blood. The BJP has to answer for this,” she told the media there.

At a press conference in Kolkata, BJP’s state vice-president Pratap Banerjee announced the call for a strike. “We have called for a Bengal bandh on September 26 for 12 hours to protest against the atrocities in Darivit High School in Islampur,” he said.

The chief minister vowed action against any strike. “There will be no bandh in Bengal. If anyone tries to paralyse normal life, the administration will take stern action. These are tactics to divert public attention from issues such as rising prices of fuel and the Rafale deal,” she told the media.

The chief minister had left on a 12-day trip to Germany and Italy to bring in investments, and is likely to return on September 28.

BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh has demanded a CBI probe into the two deaths. He said he didn’t go to meet the families “deliberately” as he wanted to “avoid stoking tension”. “I may go there tomorrow or the day after.”

The RSS has supported the bandh, and accused the state government of failing to control the situation in Islampur. Its south Bengal general secretary Jishnu Basu sought an “unconditional apology” from state education minister Partha Chatterjee, who had on Friday blamed the organisation for orchestrating trouble at the school, which led to students clashing with the police.

“The RSS in no way is involved in it. He (Chatterjee) should either prove what he has said or apologise publicly or else we will launch a massive movement,” Basu said, adding, “We demand a CBI inquiry into the incident to bring out the truth. The state government is trying to hide facts.”

Speaking on the violence and the controversy over the appointment of teachers, the chief minister said, “Students cannot decide which teacher will join duty. There are places in Bengal where more than 10% of the population comprises Muslims. Islampur is one of them. That is why we wanted to appoint an Urdu teacher. But the students were not willing to let him in, though they did not say anything about the Sanskrit teacher. The BJP and the RSS are clearly making a communal issue out of this. They brought goons from outside and opened fire (on the students).”

Meanwhile, the parents of the two victims have demanded a CBI probe. “We have no faith in the police. The post-mortem was done at midnight. We demand a CBI investigation. The body may have to be examined again,” Rajesh’s father Nilkamal Sarkar said. The mother, Jharna, said “the police shot (her son) dead.”

Tapash’s mother Basanti said her son “was at his shop... when a bullet hit him from behind”.

Sarkar and Burman sustained bullet injuries during the clash between the police and students of the school in Islampur, about 488km north of Kolkata. The students were demanding appointment of teachers for science and literature while protesting the recruitment of newly-appointed Urdu and Sanskrit teachers.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Sep 22, 2018 23:34 IST

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