Midnapore / Malda / Kolkata: At least four people have been killed and several are injured in clashes in different parts of the state over the formation of newly elected Gram Panchayat boards.
Among the deceased are two workers each of the BJP and the Trinamool. The widespread violence has made Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee take a note of this: during a Cabinet meeting she has reportedly asked her ministers to ensure that violence is curbed in their respective districts.
Purulia is the district where BJP performed very well in the Panchayat elections held in May: it won seats nearly equal to the ruling Trinamool. While in as many as 59 Gram Panchayats in the district the saffron party has won an absolute majority; it is also eyeing to form boards with the help of Independents in several others that have got a fractured mandate.
Thus, as soon as the administration notified the dates for the formation of new boards, a tension cropped up between the BJP and the Trinamool. This took an ugly turn at Ghagra Gram Panchayat under Jaipur block today.
In the 12-member Ghagra GP, BJP has won 8 seats, Trinamool 4. Despite this, Trinamool allegedly resorted to violence to deter the BJP from forming the board. Since morning today, Trinamool cadres took position around the GP office to stop entry of the BJP members.
Getting a wind of this, BJP too organised a large gathering of workers and marched towards the GP office. This eventually led to a face-off with Trinamool cadres who allegedly lobbed crude bombs and fired bullets at the BJP cadres.
As the bombing and firing were on, a large posse of policemen from Jaipur police station reached the spot. Police fired teargas shells and also fired bullets in the air to disperse the violent crowd. In the melee, two BJP workers died of bullets and six others got injured.
Purulia BJP district president Vidyasagar Chakraborty alleged that both the BJP workers have been killed by police firing. “One of the deceased is Niranjan Gop. I am trying to ascertain the name of the second victim. Six of our injured workers are admitted to Jaipur Hospital,” he said.
Both the Purulia police and Trinamool have denied that the two have died of police bullets. “It is the BJP which is bringing in armed goons from Jharkhand and creating unrest here. Neither police nor Trinamool cadres fired at anyone,” claimed Purulia Trinamool district president and state minister Santiram Mahato.
While the clash in Purulia was between BJP and Trinamool, in Malda in north Bengal is the fight among Trinamool factions that has claimed two lives and has left a child injured. This has happened at Gopalpur Gram Panchayat under Manikchak block where Trinamool and Congress won five seats each, but Congress gave up the claim on board formation.
The trouble today began among two factions of the Trinamool as to who should become the head of the Gram Panchayat. Armed with bombs and firearms, the stronger faction took position around Gopalpur GP office right from the morning.
As soon as the other faction neared the office, they launched an attack by lobbing crude bombs and firing bullets. Salam Sheikh (20) died on being hit by a bomb; Azahar Sheikh (60) succumbed to a bullet.
Around the same time, the powerful faction also launched an attack on an elected Panchayat member of the party named Sirazul Islam. Youths on motorcycles threw crude bombs at him: the bomb missed the target but the splinters left a three-year-old boy injured. The boy was playing outside his house.
The injured boy is now admitted to Malda Medical College and Hospital with injuries in the head.
Similar violence over Panchayat board formation has been reported from Raghunathpur in Purulia, and Paschimtola village at Laxmipur Gram Panchayat under Chopra block in North Dinajpur.
At Paschimtola several villagers have been injured by bullets allegedly fired by Trinamool cadres from airguns. Peeved at this, the villagers have dug up roads at several places to stop the police and Trinamool cadres from entering.