Post-poll violence rocks Bengal for third straight day

Published on May 21, 2019 07:41 PM IST

Violence has continued in several places since the last day of polling on Sunday with the ruling Trinamool Congress and its main challenger BJP blaming each other,

A police patrol on the polling day during the assembly by-election at Bhatpara in West Bengal on Sunday.(ANI)
A police patrol on the polling day during the assembly by-election at Bhatpara in West Bengal on Sunday.(ANI)
Hindustan Times, Midnapore/Siliguri | ByHT Correspondents

Violence rocked Bhatpara assembly constituency in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district for the third consecutive on Tuesday as supporters of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clashed in the area using crude bombs.

Violence was also reported from the districts of Cooch Behar and Birbhum where a BJP supporter being shot allegedly by TMC supporters.

The epicenter of violence on Tuesday morning in Bhatpara was Kankinara railway station, where miscreants even hurled bricks towards a local train, triggering panic among passengers.

For the second day in succession, locals blocked railway tracks on Tuesday, to protest against the administration’s inability to arrest violence. As Eastern Railway spokesperson said that services on the Sealdah–Naihati section of Sealdah Division were obstructed for about 3 hours from 8:43 am for “non-railway cause”. As a result, 14 local trains and three mail/express trains were detained, seven pairs of local trains had to be cancelled and seven trains were terminated short of destination.

Also read: BJP wants central forces in Bengal till MCC ends

“We are going through sleepless nights since Sunday. Tension is everywhere as clashes are erupting frequently with crude bombs raining in the area,” said Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya, a local.

The clashes took place despite prohibitory orders being in force.

A BJP delegation headed by state president Dilip Ghosh met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Tuesday afternoon and said central forces should be deployed in the affected areas if police fails to restore peace in Bhatpara.

“TMC’s main target is to defeat BJP in Bengal. We apprehend violence in and outside vote counting centres on May 23. There can be violence after the results are declared,” Ghosh said after meeting Tripathi.

“We have deployed more rapid action force (RAF) personnel and police forces to control the violence. We are doing our work and hope that the situation will improve at the earliest,” said Sunil Kumar Choudhary, the Commissioner of Barrackpore City Police.

TMC and BJP leaders blamed each other as well as the Election Commission of India (ECI) for the unchecked violence.

“BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Barrackpore, Arjun Singh and his supporters started the violence on Sunday, and are still terrorising the locals. They are even setting fire to vehicles. We are unhappy with the EC’s role that is of a mute spectator,” said Bengal food and supplies minister and Trinamool’s district president of North 24 Parganas, Jyoti Priya Mallick.

Singh, on the other hand, claimed that TMC-backed goons were encouraged by the provocative speech of chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Bhatpara during her campaign. “She said they (TMC) would get even in every inch. TMC goons attacked even my house. I am tired of complaining to the EC. It is not taking any action. I would request the state governor to intervene,” said Singh.

“If the situation does not improve by this evening, Jyoti Priya Mallick will launch a ‘march to Bhatapara’, programme tomorrow,” said TMC candidate for Bhatpara Assembly bypoll Madan Mitra.

On Monday, a BJP supporter, Jaideb Burman, was shot on his hips by TMC toughs, alleged BJP Cooch Behar district vice-president Bhaben Chandra Roy. North Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh claimed TMC workers have no role in the incident.

The district police super did not take calls.

On Monday night, eight persons were injured, two of them seriously, when miscreants attacked the houses of four BJP workers in Salt Lake adjoining Kolkata.

Crude bombs were hurled targeting a house of a TMC worker in Sahapur area of Birbhum district.

In another incident on Tuesday afternoon, Sudipta Kar (20), was shot dead by unidentified assailants near IIT Kharagpur, when he was riding two-wheeler. “He was shot in the chest. He was declared dead when he was taken to a hospital. We are trying to find out who did it and why,” said Y

Raghuvanshi, additional superintendent of police, Kharagpur.

It was not clear whether the incident had any connection with politics or the elections.

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