Trinamul-BJP turf war draws blood in Bengal
Four people were feared killed on Saturday evening as Trinamul and BJP supporters allegedly clashed with guns in Sandeshkhali, around 60km from Calcutta, in North 24-Parganas.
Although police didn’t comment on the clash or the deaths, senior BJP and Trinamul leaders blamed each other.
Jyotipriya Mullick, food and civil supplies minister and Trinamul district president, said that Kayum Mollah, a party supporter, had died after being shot and then bludgeoned.
BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu, who had contested unsuccessfully from the local parliamentary constituency of Basirhat, said party supporters Tapan Mondal, Sukanta Mondal and Pradip Mondal had died of bullet injuries.
The trigger behind the clash, multiple local sources said, was an attempt by the local Trinamul to remove BJP flags at Nazat in Sandeshkhali.
“Some people started removing BJP flags. A quarrel broke out between BJP and Trinamul supporters and snowballed into a clash. Men whipped out revolvers and bullets began flying,” a resident of Nazat, part of Basirhat subdivision, said.
A police team that rushed in from Barasat faced an attack from irate villagers. The area remained tense late into the night, with around 100 police personnel standing guard at Hatgachi in Nazat. The area, just a few kilometres from the Bangladesh border, has a history of political violence.
Some residents said they had been fearing trouble because of recent BJP and Trinamul efforts to establish their dominance over the area, which has a mixed Hindu-Muslim population.
Post-poll violence has already claimed the lives of Trinamul workers at Nimta and Dinhata in Cooch Behar.
“Kayum was one of our active workers in the area,” Mullick said. “BJP workers started the violence and shot him in the head. Our workers were meeting to assess the Lok Sabha poll results. They were unarmed and couldn’t retaliate.”
Mullick accused the BJP of a planned attack. He alleged that after shooting Kayum, BJP workers hit him on the head with a brick.
BJP district president Ganesh Ghosh denied the allegations. He said the trouble broke out when Trinamul supporters began pulling down BJP flags and some BJP workers protested. Basu echoed him.
“When our supporters protested the removal of flags, Trinamul supporters started firing. One of their supporters too died in their firing,” Basu said.