Clashes reported in Bengal's Basirhat after police attempt to stop BJP procession carrying slain workers; situation under control, says state govt
Meanwhile, the BJP's workers were seen staging protests by writing ‘Jai Shri Ram’ on posters in Howrah.
BJP members clashed with the police, after the latter stopped a party leader’s delegation in the district.
The delegation was carrying the mortal remains of slain workers to Kolkata
The Ministry of Home Affairs, headed by Amit Shah, sought a report from the state government on the violence.
Sandeshkhali: Warring parties the BJP and the TMC Sunday continued to blame each other for Saturday's violence in Sandeshkhali, even as bodies of three persons were recovered and several others remained 'missing'.
The BJP tried to take the bodies of two of its supporters to Kolkata from Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district, but the party workers were stopped by police, leading to heated exchange of words between the two sides. The BJP leadership later decided to take the bodies to the village of the two slain party workers.
In an advisory to the West Bengal government, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs expressed "deep concern" over the continuing violence and asked it to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile, stating that there were a few "stray post-poll clashes" in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government Sunday claimed that situation in the state was "under control" in a letter to the Centre.
State Chief Secretary Malay Kumar De wrote in the letter to the Union Home Ministry, "There have been a few stray post-poll clashes in the state perpetrated by some anti-social elements, the law enforcement authorities have been taking firm and appropriate actions in all such cases without any delay. The situation is under control and it may not be construed under any circumstance to be a failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery of the State to maintain the rule of law and impure confidence among the people," the letter read.
Chief Medical Officer of Basirhat D Mukherjee said bodies of three persons were brought to Basirhat Hospital Saturday night. The bodies have been identified as that of Sukanta Mondal, Pradip Mondal and Kayoom Mollah. While Sukanta and Pradip were BJP supporters, TMC leaders said Kayoom was an active worker of their party.
State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu Saturday said three party workers -- Sukanta Mondal, Pradip Mondal and Shankar Mondal -- were shot dead, while state minister Jyotipriyo Mallick maintained that TMC worker Kayoom Mollah was killed in the clash. Shankar Mondal and Debdas Mondal of Bhangipara village are missing, local BJP leaders claimed.
The police and the district administration have remained tight-lipped about the incident and have not made any statement on the number of deaths. A huge contingent of police is posted at Bhangipara village under Nyajat police station where the clashes took place on Saturday evening during a TMC rally. Internet service has also been suspended at Nyazat.
The BJP Sunday wanted to take the bodies of two slain workers to the party state headquarters in Kolkata after the postmortem examination, but the police stopped the hearses at Minakha by placing its vehicles blocking the state highway.
An earlier attempt of the police at Malancha to stop the party failed as the BJP workers forced their way through. "The families have given their consent (to take the bodies). The police cannot stop us like this," West Bengal BJP
president Dilip Ghosh, who was accompanying the hearses, said.
"The police did not act when our people were attacked and killed and now they are not allowing us to take the bodies of our party workers," he said.
Senior BJP leader Rahul Sinha later said since the family members of the two victims were feeling unwell, the bodies will be taken back to their villages.
BJP leader Mukul Roy accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of instigating political strife through her speeches.
He also claimed that five members of the saffron party were killed in the clashes and several others are missing. Speaking to reporters at the airport here on his arrival from Delhi, Roy alleged that local TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh masterminded the attack on BJP workers.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said it is for the people to see what the BJP, which won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal in the polls, was up to in the state. "People should see whom they have voted for. The BJP is not interested in bringing investments to West Bengal or do any good, but is indulging in violence and creating lawlessness in the state," he said in Kolkata on Sunday.
The food and supplies minister said his party apprehended that the "missing workers" might have been killed. Mallick, who led a party delegation to Sandeshkhali, told PTI, "We apprehend that six TMC workers have been killed and their bodies dumped in water."
He alleged the BJP workers attacked TMC supporters during a procession, and accused the saffron party of bringing in outsiders to foment trouble. The minister also asserted that the BJP workers were killed by bullets fired by their "own people" and denied that TMC men were involved in their deaths.
Contending that his party wants peace to prevail, Mallick said he has asked his partymen not to hold any meeting or procession without the district leadership's permission. The BJP held meetings and rallies at several places in the state, including Kolkata, protesting the killing of its party workers, and courted arrest.
At least 62 persons, including 11 women, were arrested in Kolkata, police said. Sources in the TMC and the BJP had claimed on Saturday that the clashes broke out over removal of saffron party flags in the area. Local people said several shops and houses were ransacked during the violence, which broke out during a TMC procession.
The area is under Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency from which TMC's Nusrat Jahan won with a huge margin of over
3 lakh votes.