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Toll in Bengal violence rises to 5 as BJP activist dies in hospital

While the BJP blames the Trinamool Congress for violence that erupted during the panchayat board formation process, CM Mamata Banerjee has alleged that police personnel are being targeted by members of the opposition party.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2018 12:24 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times, Midnapore
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she has asked the police to deal with people instigating violence in the state with a firm hand.(PTI File)

A BJP worker died at a hospital in Bengal’s Purulia district on Monday night, taking the total number of people killed in the violence that erupted during the panchayat board formation process to five since August 25.

Damodal Mondal (58) was injured in a clash at Joypur village in Purulia, following which he was rushed to the Deben Mahato Hospital in a critical condition. Another BJP worker, Niranjan Gope (28), had died immediately after being hit by a bullet.

The bodies of Gope and Mondal will be subjected to post-mortem examinations at the district hospital on Tuesday. State BJP unit general secretary Sayantan Bose will visit the district to chalk out protests over the next few days.

The violence over formation of boards meant to run rural bodies began on Saturday. While a Trinamool Congress (TMC) worker died that day, the ruling party and the BJP lost two supporters each in clashes that broke out across Purulia and Malda districts.

The authorities have denied Bose’s claim that the BJP workers fell to police bullets. “We only fired in the air to control the situation. Our own personnel were injured in the violence. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding Damodar Mondal’s death,” said district police superintendent Akash Magharia.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed a similar sentiment. “Trouble broke out in certain places across the state over panchayat board formation. I have asked the administration and police to deal with such situations firmly. A group of people are targeting policemen, and one of our officers was badly injured,” she said at the state secretariat on Monday.

The BJP, however, squarely blamed the TMC for the violence. “More than six persons injured in the clashes are still hospitalised. We desire peaceful formation of gram panchayat boards, but Trinamool Congress workers and the police keep creating problems,” said Bidyadagar Chakraborty, president of the party’s Purulia unit.

Purulia district magistrate Alokesh Prasad Roy has kept the formation of 32 panchayat boards in the district on hold because the conditions were not conducive for the exercise. The process was supposed to be completed between August 27 and 29.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 12:22 IST