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Central BJP team for flare-up zone

Calcutta, June 12: A central BJP team will on Sunday visit Illambazar in Birbhum, where a party supporter was hacked to death by suspected Trinamul workers on June 7.

The visit, the second such trip by a central BJP team in a fortnight, is another instance of the party’s focus on Bengal, where its vote share has risen to 16.8 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls this year from 6.5 per cent in the 2011 Assembly elections.

A BJP delegation led by the party’s national vice-president Muqtar Abbas Naqvi had on May 31 visited Sandeshkhali in North 24-Parganas, where 13 party activists suffered pellet injuries in an attack by suspected Trinamul workers.

The team to Illambazar will have as members Siddharth Nath Singh, who oversees the party affairs in Bengal, national vice-president Balbir Punj, MP Kirti Azad and the party’s minority cell president, Abdul Rashid Ansari.

Sheikh Rahim, 55, who had switched over to the BJP from the CPM last month to escape alleged attacks by Trinamul workers, was hacked to death after being chased out of his home by suspected activists of the ruling party.

An FIR drawn up by police on the basis of a complaint by Rahim’s family had included a Trinamul block committee president’s name as the last accused. Trinamul leaders in Birbhum had said the police “did not want to take any chance” with the BJP, which was emerging as a force to reckon with in the state. Yesterday, the police tagged in the murder case a BJP supporter named in an attempt-to-murder case lodged by a Trinamul worker.

“The Mamata Banerjee government has hardly done anything after the central team’s visit to Sandeshkhali. This time, we are sending another team to Bengal,” Singh said over the phone from Delhi.

The BJP leader added the team wouldn’t meet anyone in the Bengal government, unlike the last time when the delegation had met chief secretary Sanjay Mitra and had threatened to seek the Centre’s intervention if the government did not act within 24 hours.

“We will submit a report to the Union home minister this time,” Singh said.

The state government accused the BJP of trying to create trouble.

Trinamul secretary-general and minister Partha Chatterjee said: “Let a central BJP team come here once again. I want to tell them that law and order is a state subject. They cannot interfere in it.”

He added: “BJP leaders are free to visit Bengal a hundred times. But they should not foment unrest in a peaceful state.”

At a news conference at the Trinamul headquarters in Topsia after the BJP team’s visit to Sandeshkhali, Chatterjee had said the state government was “not scared of Delhi”.

Bengal BJP sources today said the party would hold a series of demonstrations across the state to protest the party worker’s death on June 7 and “Trinamul-sponsored” terror.