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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Trinamul Congress blames Border Security Force for deaths of four minor boys in Chopra block of North Dinajpur

Trinamul resorted to protests in Chopra, prompting BJP to accuse Trinamul of trying to malign BSF

Avijit Sinha, Kousik Sen Siliguri/Raiganj Published 14.02.24, 10:02 AM
Trinamul leaders, along with party workers and local residents, demonstrate against the BSF at Chetanagach village in Chopra block of North Dinajpur on Tuesday

Trinamul leaders, along with party workers and local residents, demonstrate against the BSF at Chetanagach village in Chopra block of North Dinajpur on Tuesday Picture by Kousik Sen

The deaths of four minor boys in Chopra block of North Dinajpur on Monday has taken a political turn with Trinamul on Tuesday renewing its verbal attacks on the Border Security Force (BSF), alleging that negligence on the latter’s part led to the mishap.

The move is being seen as an attempt by Trinamul to counter the BJP movement over the Sandeshkhali issue. The BSF functions under the home ministry helmed by Amit Shah.

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On Tuesday, Trinamul resorted to protests in Chopra, prompting the BJP to accuse Trinamul of trying to malign the BSF.

On Monday afternoon, an excavator was engaged to dig a trench at Chetanagach village of Chopra block. Suddenly, a mound of loose earth fell on four boys aged between five and 12 and they got buried alive.

Residents and BSF personnel recovered them and rushed them to a nearby health centre where doctors pronounced them dead. Residents alleged that the BSF had not taken enough precautions at the work site, which Trinamul leaders took up.

“Time and again, the BSF’s highhandedness at the border has been proved. They torture and even kill people on flimsy pretexts. This time, the boys lost their lives because of the BSF’s negligence. The Centre should compensate their families and the Union home minister (Amit Shah) cannot evade responsibility,” said state minister Sashi Panja in Calcutta on Tuesday.

Over the past few days, Trinamul has been facing political heat over Sandeshkhali protests against its local leaders. After the children died on Monday, Trinamul is trying to corner the BJP as the BSF is a central force, opined observers.

“The chief minister and her party colleagues are consistently vocal against the BSF. Recently, she had alerted bordering villagers not to accept identity cards issued by BSF. As this incident has happened near the border, Trinamul has started flagging it to prove that the central security force is negligent and apathetic towards the border population,” said an observer.

On Tuesday, several Trinamul MLAs, along with party leaders and supporters, demonstrated at Chetanagach, demanding steps against BSF. Around 500 party workers, along with residents, congregated there.

“Our national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee is closely monitoring the situation. On his instructions, our party will hand over a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to affected families. The BSF should also announce compensation and apologise,” said Hamidul Rahaman, the Trinamul MLA of Chopra.

In Calcutta, Trinamul announced a 12-member delegation comprising state ministers, MPs, MLAs and state leaders, which sought an appointment from governor C.V. Ananda Bose on February 15. “The governor went to Sandeshkhali and we will request him to visit Chopra as well,” said Trinamul state general secretary Kunal Ghosh.

A five-member team of the West Bengal Commission for the Protection of Child Rights will visit Chopra on Wednesday. A police investigation is on, said sources.

The BJP has reacted sharply.

Raju Bista, the BJP MP of Darjeeling (the Chopra Assembly segment comes under his parliamentary seat), on Tuesday said Trinamul was trying to malign the force.

Bista, who also announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next-of-kin of each child, said: “The BSF intervened on time and helped people take out the children from the debris. Some Trinamul leaders are politicising the tragedy by baselessly blaming BSF. The unwarranted and repeated attacks on the BSF by chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders pose a grave threat to our national security.”

The MP said he has also sent letters to Mamata and the governor, seeking investigation against those spreading “fake information against the BSF.”

The BSF north Bengal frontier issued a clarification on Tuesday. It said that a resident of Chetanagach, Ashirul, approached BSF personnel at the local border outpost on February 11 for levelling work for which he wanted to get the earth by getting a trench dug. Such trenches, BSF sources said, are dug to discourage cattle smuggling too.

“Even the state provides employment to locals under the MGNREGS to dig such trenches. The commander at the post agreed to it. After the digging was done, some children playing inside it got buried when a side mud wall of the trench fell on them,” the release said, adding the BSF responded immediately by sending troops for rescue and gave vehicles to rush the children to the nearest health centre.

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