Two killed, four injured in West Bengal's Malda district after two TMC groups clash over panchayat board formation

Malda/Kolkata: Two persons were killed and four injured in Malda as violence erupted over formation of panchayat boards in some districts of West Bengal, even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed for maintaining peace.

The BJP claimed that two of its workers were killed in police firing in Purulia which was not immediately confirmed by police.

The chief minister said in Purulia, one police personnel was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after being seriously injured and "probably two have died there". She, however, did not elaborate.

"I have got information that at some places there were direct confrontations with police. In Purulia, one policeman was seriously injured and is in the ICU and probably two have died there. It is not right to attack the administration. There are democratic ways to protest," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

File image of Mamata Banerjee. AFP

File image of Mamata Banerjee. AFP

According to police, two persons were killed and four, including a three-year old boy, injured when two groups allegedly belonging to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) clashed over formation of Gopalpur gram panchayat board in Malda district.

"Firearms and bombs were used during the clash. Of the four injured, the boy and a Congress supporter were admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital, while the rest were admitted to a rural hospital at Manikchak," police said.

Party sources said the Congress had extended support to the TMC to keep the alleged communal forces at bay and hence some of its members were present at the site of the clash between the two Trinamool Congress groups. The two killed in the clash have been identified as Salam Sheikh and Azahar Sheikh.

Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh rushed to the spot and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) started patrolling the area. "The situation is now under control," the police said.

District Congress general secretary Kali Sadhan Roy said his party was not involved in the clash.

"The Trinammol Congress was unable to decide on the gram panchayat board chief and we did not put up any candidate. It is entirely their own fight," he claimed.

Manikchak block TMC president and former minister Sabitri Mitra claimed a Congress supporter made a provocative speech outside the panchayat office that led to the clash.

She said there is no tension near the panchayat office where the voting took place and there were no candidates from the opposition parties for the post of the chief of the 10-member gram panchayat board.

BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu alleged that two workers of his party were killed at Jaipur in Purulia in police firing when they were attacked by the TMC activists.

"TMC workers backed by the police and goons attacked and stopped the BJP workers from forming panchayat board at Jaipur. The police opened fire on the BJP workers", he claimed.

Appealing to the people to maintain peace, the chief minister said "I do not support violence. Every death is sad. I feel bad if a person dies in violence irrespective of his political affiliation. The people have voted in gram panchayat elections and there is no need to indulge in violence."

Banerjee said that she had called up "about 15 to 20 places" and requested them to maintain peace. "I have told my party to maintain peace while forming the panchayat boards", she said.

She said people must remember that political parties should not indulge in vandalism, violence, or in any form of confrontation.

Without naming the BJP, she claimed, "They are bringing in people from different states. We have information that outsiders are being brought in from Bihar. They are hiring goons from other states and bringing them to Bengal."

Asked about the role of Central forces, Banerjee said, "We have information and evidence that in Midnapore the central forces have taken sides and are helping in bringing in people."

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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 22:30 PM

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