Tuesday's violence brought infamy to Kaliaganj, a town known as the home turf of late Congress veteran Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, opined political leaders and residents.
On April 25, a mob attacked and torched the local police station, assaulted policemen and civic volunteers and vandalised several homes.
The incident occurred after a march was taken out by Adivasis and Rajbanshis of the area in protest of a girl's death in the district. Her family claimed she was raped and murdered, while the police disclaimed it, calling it suicide by poison. The protest turned violent when the march was stopped by cops from reaching the police station.
“Kaliaganj was synonymous with Priya Ranjan Das Munshi’s name. The town is known for its culture and courtesy.... Whatever happened during the past three days would have definitely disheartened him. We believe residents and sincere political workers should take up the task to restore the town’s image,” said Deepa, wife of the Congress stalwart who died in November 2017.
The town, some 24km from North Dinajpur district headquarters, is known for its cultural and sporting events.
Bharatendu Choudhury, a senior CPM leader, said the town had seen political rivalries but they never spiralled into violence.
“Despite our differences, we came together for social and religious occasions and sports events. There was mutual respect. The violence and the inhuman attack on policemen have left us stunned.... Also... the manner in which Trinamul and the BJP have indulged in politics is something we have not seen here earlier,” said Choudhury.
Many are surprised how the violence occurred under the ambit of a police station adjudged the best in Bengal in 2019.
“We are perturbed. Prohibitory orders are still in force and the Internet is off. We haven't seen such a situation before,” said Chandan Chakraborty, a teacher.
Till Saturday evening, no official statement came from the state police on Mrityunjoy Barman’s death early on Thursday. The 33-year-old died allegedly of a police bullet when cops visited village Chandga in Kaliaganj block in search of those involved in Tuesday's violence.
On Saturday, a team of the state human rights commission visited Chandga, but couldn’t meet the youth’s kin as they had gone to Siliguri, Barman’s workplace, on an errand, said sources.
State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Choudhury on Saturday met the kin of the deceased girl and said his party was ready to give them legal aid and raise the demand for a CBI probe.
Adhir reached Chandga and said his party stood with Barman's kin. On Sunday, the Congress will host a protest march in Raiganj.