BJP delegation visits Bhatpara, demands probe

Kolkata: A three-member BJP delegation on Saturday visited violence-hit Bhatpara in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district where two persons were shot dead during a clash on Thursday, and demanded a probe into the killings even as it accused the state police of opening fire on innocent people.

The three-member delegation, comprising BJP MPs S.S. Ahluwalia, Satya Pal Singh and Vishnu Dayal Ram, visited the house of the two deceased – Rambabu Shaw and Dharambir Shaw – in Bhatpara on Saturday afternoon and said the bereaved families would be given financial aid of Rs 10 lakh each.

The delegation was accompanied by Barrackpore Lok Sabha MP Arjun Singh.

“When the clash between two groups took place, police baton charged one group and shot at the other. We want to know who took that decision? Who was behind this conspiracy? There should be a thorough probe into this. We will submit the report to (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah and apprise him of the on-ground situation here,” Ahluwalia said.

“Police opened fire on innocent, common people. They have shot everyone here. Police held a press conference and said they fired in the air. If it was true, then how did the people get shot? Were they flying in the air?” he questioned.

Showing remnants of used bullets, which were recovered by the locals here after Thursday’s incident, Ahluwalia claimed that they are “INSAS bullets”, often used by the police personnel.

“These are parts of INSAS bullets which were used by police that day. Seven people sustained bullet injury including the two deceased. All of them are common people.

He identified the two deceased persons as ‘Panipuri’ sellers in the area and said the families are in deep trouble due to their sudden deaths.

“They were not involved in any clashes. Rambabu, a 17-year-old youth was going to buy food from a shop when police shot him from point blank range. Dharambir was also shot by the police and died on the spot. Another person is admitted to the hospital,” he alleged.

The BJP MP from Asansol-Durgapur parliamentary constituency accused the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in constant violence even after the 2019 poll results have come out and urged its leaders to fight a “democratic battle” with the BJP instead of “murdering” common people.

“I want to ask Trinamool Congress, how long will this violence continue? When there was violence during elections and people were killed we tolerated that. Now the poll result has come out. If you (Trinamool) have any complaint or grudge against Modiji or the central government, you should debate on that in Parliament. That is the biggest space for democratic discourse. But why are you killing these poor people? This is unfortunate,” he added.

Fresh tension was reported shortly after the BJP delegation left the area as a group of locals agitated against the police accusing them of inaction and pelted stones at the personnel on duty.

Police resorted to a baton charge on two occasions to disperse the mob in which one person sustained a head injury.

Barrackpore Police Commissioner Manoj Kumar Verma said the situation was “under control and peaceful” and clarified that police has not allowed any unlawful gathering in the area as CrPC 144 is in force there.

“The situation is totally under control and peaceful. Because CrPC 144 is imposed here, police have chased away the people making unlawful gatherings. May be some people fell on the ground and sustained injury during the chasing,” said Verma, who conducted a route march in the area along with other senior officers.

However, he refused to comment on the BJP leaders’ claims that two locals died in police firing.

“All the matters are under investigation. It is not possible for me to comment on that,” he said.

The region in the Barrackpore parliamentary constituency has been tense since the election results were announced on May 23. Former Trinamool MLA from Bhatpara Arjun Singh, who defected to the BJP just before the 2019 polls, won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat while his son Pawan Singh won the Assembly by-election from Bhatpara.

A fresh flare-up in the area killed two persons and left at least four others injured while the police had to open fire on Thursday, prompting the administration to impose prohibitory orders in the affected areas.

Internet services were suspended in large parts of North 24 Parganas district including the Barrackpore, Bongaon and Basirhat sub-divisions since the clash on Thursday as per the order issued by District Magistrate Chaitali Chakrabarty. However, the services were restored post midnight on Saturday.