Thursday, 22 August 2019

8 dead in gun battle between rival Indian political parties

FILE PHOTO  –  A polling station in West Bengal, India. ©REUTERS / Rupak De Chowdhuri

NEW DELHI: At least eight persons were allegedly killed and several others injured and missing following a gun battle between West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP workers in West Bengal state, police and a local politician said on Sunday.

At least 18 others were injured in the clashes that broke out Saturday in the eastern state that has been on edge since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an aggressive campaign to win parliamentary seats last year.

While the state BJP sources claimed that five of their activists have been shot dead by the Trinamool backed men and 18 others have gone missing, a senior Trinamool Congress leader alleged three of their party workers have been killed in a bloodied clash that took place in Hatgachi area under Sandeshkhali Assembly constituency.

Graphic images of those slain in the Sandeshkhali clash was posted on social media. “Mamata Banerjee is directly responsible for unleashing violence against BJP workers. We will be reaching Union Home Minister Amit Shah to apprise him of the Sandeshkhali killings,” BJP leader Mukul Roy tweeted late on Saturday.

Police has so far confirmed deaths of three political workers comprising two from BJP and one from Trinamool Congress in the incident.

According to locals, the clash between the two groups started over the forceful removal of BJP’s flags on Saturday afternoon. It soon took a violent turn and bullets were flying.

Mukul Roy called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday night and apprised him of the situation. “A team of BJP MPs will visit the area on Sunday and submit a report to Shah,” he said.

State BJP General Secretary Sayantan Basu had on Saturday claimed three party workers – Pradip Mondal, Tapan Mondal and Sukanta Mondal – were killed and five other functionaries injured in the clash.

BJP state General Secretary (organisation) Subrata Chattopadhyay said a fourth BJP worker Debabrata Mondal also died of bullet injury.

Later, another injured BJP worker Shankar Mondal’s body was found, who died early on Sunday, BJP sources said.A

The Trinamool meanwhile said its worker Qayum Mollah was stabbed to death, two others were thrown into the water.

“During a booth-level meeting of our workers in Hatgachhi, some miscreants backed by the BJP, attacked them. Mollah, a 26-year-old Trinamool worker, was dragged out of the party office and stabbed to death,” state Minister and Trinamool’s district President Jyotipriya Mallick claimed.

“Two other workers were thrown into the river. Eighteen Trinamool workers, including six women, are injured,” he said. “I would like to ask the BJP whether we have the right to hold a meeting or not.”

Union Minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo tweeted he was “deeply disturbed” by the murders of BJP functionaries.

“The people of West Bengal will very soon put an end to TMC’s atrocities,” said Supriyo.

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