KOLKATA: Just days before the July 8 Panchayat polls in the state, violence in West Bengal continued, with a Trinamool Congress (TMC) worker shot dead on Tuesday morning and leaving six others injured in a clash which allegedly involved the state’s ruling party supporters and the opposition BJP in Dinhata of Cooch Behar district.
This was the latest in a series of incidents involving violence in the run up to the Panchayat polls.
Till now, a minimum of 11 people have been killed, while dozens have been left injured in clashes since the State Election Commission (SEC) announced the poll schedule on June 8.
“A political clash broke out between two groups. Seven persons sustained bullet injuries out of which one died. He has been identified as Babu Haque,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity in Cooch Behar.
The scene of the fresh clash is close to the India-Bangladesh border’s unfenced portion. Another police officer did not rule out the possibility of Bangladeshi criminals being used by local leaders in the incident. He said that they are conducting further investigation into the matter.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee kicked off her campaign for the Panchayat polls with a rally in Cooch Behar on Monday.
During her speech at the rally, she took a potshot at the Border Security Force (BSF), with the allegation that the force guarding the border is involved in terrorising and killing people in villages in areas near the international border. She has earlier also launched a verbal attack on the BSF.
Refuting her statement on Monday, the BSF termed all the allegations to be completely baseless and detached from truth. The security force also said that they have not yet received any complaint of intimidation of any person by BSF or any other sister agency.
The violence in the days leading up to the polls have continued, even as 822 companies of central paramilitary forces have been sought by the state government for conducting the elections.
On June 20, the Supreme Court upheld a June 13 Calcutta High Court order regarding their deployment. The high court had directed the SEC to requisition central forces immediately and deploy them mainly in sensitive constituencies. The state government and the SEC proceeded to challenge the order in the Supreme Court, which then dismissed their appeals.