The Murshidabad triple murder was being dubbed a case of political violence, with the male victim being dubbed another one of RSS workers who were targeted because of their political affiliation. The claim is politically potent enough that it is roiling West Bengal politics as the Bharatiya Janata Party accused Trinamool Congress for the case. The pattern, the accusation and the ensuing politics appear all too familiar, as in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. However, this time around, the problem is that not just the local police but also the family seems to be denying a political angle to the case .
On Tuesday, Bandhuprakash Pal, a 40-year-old school teacher, his wife Beauty (30) and their son Angan (5) were found brutally murdered at their home in Lebu Bagan area of Jiaganj. The news soon hit headlines with various media outlets identifying Bandhuprakash as an RSS worker and the BJP attacking the ruling Trinamool Congress for unleashing an 'endless cycle of violence' against workers of Opposition parties.
The political mudslinging over the killings continued, despite the police ruling out such a motive.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra, tweeting about the murders, slammed "liberals" and other eminent citizens who recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take strict action against communal lynchings.
"Warning: Gruesome video. This has shaken my conscience …a RSS worker Sh Bandhu Prakash Pal, his eight months pregnant wife and his kid were brutally slaughtered in West Bengal’s Murshidabad; Not a word by the liberals; Not a letter by 59 liberals to Mamata. Nauseating Selectivism," he wrote on Twitter.
The RSS mouthpiece Organiser also attacked the state government for "deteriorating law and order" and accused liberals of remaining mute. It also demanded a CBI investigation.
“As it seems that Mamata Banerjee is losing control of the law and order situation in West Bengal, the triple murder has yet again proved that anti-nationals and Islamists are a law unto themselves in West Bengal. Local residents believe that it is the handy work of Islamists who wanted to drive away all the Hindus in the area and a RSS Swayamsevak was their ideal target to instill fear among the Hindus here,” an article in the mouthpiece said.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya called the crime heinous and lauched an attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. "How can law and order of a state be considered good when the life of a common man is not safe? What is happening 'didi' in your rule," he said in a tweet.
Reiterating similar claims, the Raj Bhavan -- which is ideally an apolitical office -- also issued a statement condemning the incident as "reflective of intolerance". Governor of West Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankhar has strongly condemned as dastardly and barbaric. The incident, according to the governor, has "shocked the conscience on account of its enormity. This is reflective of intolerance and worrisome law and order situation".
Reacting to Dhankar's statement on the triple murder, the Trinamool Congress criticised the governor for his "persistent overstepping of constitutional boundaries". Trinamool’s secretary general Partha Chatterjee said Dhankar was demeaning the post of the governor by crossing his constitutional limits. "We get what his intentions are. His statement regarding the law and order situation is motivated," said Chatterjee.
BJP’s national secretary Rahul Sinha called it “an absolute collapse of law and order”. “Are we living in Jungle Raj? A teacher associated with Sangh Parivar has been brutally hacked to death. The chief minister should fix responsibility immediately,” he said. Many of the social media posts contained gruesome photos and videos of the crime.
BJP’s Mahila Morcha’s social media incharge Priti Gandhi said that Bandhuprakash and his family paid the price for standing for an ideology they believed in. She tweeted, “Hindu family brutally murdered in West Bengal for supporting RSS - Bandhu Prakash Pal (35), his 8 month pregnant wife and their eight year old son Angan hacked to death in their Murshidabad home. Paid a heavy price to stand for the ideology they believed in!”
The victims' kin said Bandhuprakash was not associated with any political party. The Indian Express quoted Pal's mother as saying, "He was like a white paper [sic]. Who told you he is a BJP member? He was never associated with BJP or Trinamool Congress. He was never with RSS. These are lies being spread."
The police ruled out a political motive behind the murders; preliminary investigation into the murder of a family of three pointed to "personal reasons" being behind the crime. According to police, the husband and wife were hacked to death while the son was strangled first and later assaulted with a heavy object. Four suspects were detained for questioning but two of them were later set free.
The Telegraph quoted Murshidabad police chief Mukesh as saying, "In the investigation, being led by an additional superintendent of police, we have not found any political connection to the tragic incident. There seems to be personal reasons behind the murders. The family of the victims have told us the same. They have said so in public. In fact, they have issued an appeal against politicisation of the tragedy."
Tanmoy Sarkar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad, said that it appeared that the killers may have known Pal and his family from earlier. Sarkar was quoted by The Wire as saying, "Pal and his family stayed in Sagardighi area of Murshidabad around one and a half years ago. He shifted to Jiaganj after he borrowed some money from people and got into some trouble over it," adding "he had also ventured into a few small businesses, along with taking up teaching."
Despite the district police's announcement that the murders were committed by "unidentified miscreants", BJP upped the ante against the Mamata Banerjee-led state government and sought time from President Ram Nath Kovind and Home Minister Amit Shah to apprise them about the "complete breakdown" of the law and order situation in the state.
RSS’s Bengal secretary Jishnu Basu said that Pal was “also an RSS [cadre] and was recently associated with a ‘weekly milan’.”
Bengal senior RSS functionary Bidyut Roy too ruled out the possibility of a politics being behind the murder, clarifying that Bandhuprakash had been in touch with the RSS only for a short period. “He was in touch with us for the past four months and attended some of our programmes. He was a novice. I do not believe that he was murdered because he was in touch with us. But we condemn the murder and the guilty should be punished.”
However, despite clarifications being carried in multiple newspapers, there has been no clarification from the BJP or the RSS on their claims or the persistent attempts to dub the murders a political crime, till the time of writing this piece.
The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .
Updated Date: Oct 13, 2019 00:05:30 IST