Violence continues in Bengal as police and BJP workers clash over funeral
A day after three political workers were killed in violent clashes in West Bengal’s Basirhat, police personnel fanned across Dhanipara village on Sunday as the administration suspended internet services and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders faced off with the state police over the funeral of two slain party workers.
Local villagers said they were targeted because the Trinamool Congress trailed the BJP at the local polling booth despite winning the Basirhat Lok Sabha seat by more than 300,000 votes.
“Armed TMC workers chased my husband Debdas Mondal and fired at him. I grabbed their feet and pleaded for his life. I have not seen him since. They must have killed him. My husband’s fault was that he worked for BJP,” said Supriya Mondal.
In a report submitted to Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP national executive member Mukul Roy said Pradip Mondal, 36, a local BJP unit president, Sukanta Mondal, 28, Tapan Mondal, 25, Debabrata Mondal and Shankar Mondal, 30, were killed and five others, including Debdas Mondal, were missing in Saturday’s violence.
The bodies of all the three victims were fished out of different fisheries that dot the area. “Debdas Mondal is missing and we are looking for him. So far only three people have died,” an officer of the local Nazat police station said on condition of anonymity.
BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu claimed that two more bodies, marked ‘unidentified’ were lying at the Basirhat hospital morgue. Basu was part of the BJP team that visited Dhanipara on Sunday afternoon.
A separate TMC team also visited the area and dismissed the charges against the party. Liyaqat Ali Mollah, father of Kayum Mollah, a 26-year-old TMC worker who died in the clashes, alleged that Pradip shot his son from a point-blank range. “He was shot in front of the police. The violence took place because BJP’s state leaders such as Dilip Ghosh, have been provoking people through their hate speech,” said Mollah.
Tapas Roy, TMC chief whip in the state assembly, said, “If there is any specific complaint against the police we will certainly look into it.” A local TMC leader accused of ordering the attacks he was not present at the spot. The TMC leadership has alleged that BJP workers killed Mollah and six party supporters have gone missing.
Late in the evening, tension again rose in the area after the BJP team tried to come to Kolkata with the bodies of Pradip and Sukanta Mondal and cremate them on Monday at the party headquarters in Kolkata. Police stopped the convoy at Malancha intersection but the cars managed to get past the barricades. Police set up a second blockade at Basanti and blocked the convoy.
At Basanti, when police told Ghosh that he would not be allowed to take the bodies to Kolkata, BJP workers collected logs and set up pyres, saying the cremation would take place on the highway. The impasse continued for around an hour, after which the BJP leaders decided to move towards Kolkata and the bodies were sent back to Dhanipara. BJP declared that a 12-hour bandh will be observed in Basirhat on Monday.