Kolkata: Unfettered post-poll violence continues across West Bengal, with charges of at least 14 political killings over the past 36 hours. All parties are claiming that their cadres have been affected, with the BJP alleging that nine of its workers have been killed so far.
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has claimed that three of its cadres have died while the CPI(M) and the Indian Secular Front say they’ve lost a worker each.
Images and clips of alleged murders, arson, and ransacking of property and party offices have gone viral on social media with BJP claiming that two of its workers were allegedly gang-raped by members of the Trinamool Congress.
The West Bengal police, however, have in a tweet dismissed the claims of ‘gang-rapes’ as being ‘fake’.
— West Bengal Police (@WBPolice) May 4, 2021
But a top police officer confirmed that they have received reports of at least 14 deaths from several districts. He added that reports of clashes, attacks, ransacking of party offices and private property are also pouring in.
“We are verifying all reports, complaints, FIRs and looking into the nature of violence and the murders. Some people were arrested in some areas. We are compiling data,” the officer told The Print. “The allegations of gang-rape turned out to be unsubstantiated as we did not receive any complaint. The allegations of molestation are being verified.”
Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has held a series of meetings with the DGP and the state’s home secretary since Monday. He tweeted that he flagged the issues with the chief minister during an hour meeting with her at Raj Bhavan Tuesday. He also tweeted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called and expressed his anguish at the situation.
With violence rising every passing hour, BJP’s national president J.P. Nadda declared a nationwide dharna on 5 May, the day of Mamata’s swearing-in.
The TMC has dismissed the BJP allegations, saying the violence was a result of intra-party clashes.
Calling the BJP allegations an “exaggeration”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in a press conference Monday that the state director general of police (DGP) “appointed by them (Election Commission)” should protect people.
Derek O’ Brien, Trinamool MP and the party’s chief national spokesperson, in a statement Monday, said that these were factional clashes of BJP. “All cases on social media are BJP intra-party fights. They have more than three factions in Bengal. They hate each other,” the statement .
He also tweeted Tuesday that the images being spread on social media were from intra-BJP clashes.
BJP IT cell could have given trolls some time off after results. All cases on SM are BJP intra-party fights. Three+
factions in Bengal. They hate each other.
MO-SHA came here and spread hate for the last four months. Bengal wants peace and harmony. BJP wants divisiveness https://t.co/MAXXs6sv13
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) May 3, 2021
Violence all around
According to BJP leaders, among those killed were two young workers “lynched” in Birbhum and South 24 Parganas district, while one was “beaten to death with sticks” in Kolkata.
“There is unprecedented violence across Birbhum district. These are premeditated attacks and the responsibility lies with the chief minister,” BJP’s Anirban Ganguly, a senior state core committee member, told ThePrint.
“The police and administration have done nothing. They are trying to create a fear psychosis in the minds of a certain community. I am shocked to see the stoic silence by the so-called intellectuals in the state. There has been no word of condemnation.
“One of my very young colleagues in Birbhum, Gourav Sarkar, was dragged out of his house and beaten to death,” he alleged. “His brother is also injured. Police are not filing FIRs. This is the situation. In Nanoor and Illambazar, people are leaving their villages in fear of violence.”
Naushad Siddiqui, president of the Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui-led ISF, said his party has also borne the brunt of the violence.
“Our leaders and candidates in Canning East, Jagatballavpur, Panchla, Magrahat, Amdanga and across South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts have been attacked,” he said.
“A senior leader of my party, 30-year-old Hasanur Jaman, was brutally murdered yesterday. The local market at Furfura Sharif has been ransacked by Trinamool goons. This has never happened here. They also attacked our NGO offices that are madrasas and orphanages.”
CPI(M) leaders said that one of their mahila samiti leaders was beaten to death in Murshidabad district.
“Many of our offices have been vandalised and set on fire. One of our mahila samiti leaders has been killed in Murshidabad. Many are critical,” CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim said. “The people’s mandate is against communal forces but the ruling party is making it look like it is in favour of political violence. Mamata Banerjee, after victory, asked everyone to go home and have a bath. Did she mean blood bath?”
Salim, however, added that section was trying to give a communal spin to the political violence.
“There is a section trying to paint this political violence as communal violence,” he said. “They are trying to pit one community against the other. That will make the situation worse. Mamata Banerjee should immediately make a public statement.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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