Kolkata/New Delhi: As the death toll in post-poll violence in West Bengal rose to 14 on Tuesday from six a day before, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialled governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and expressed “serious anguish and concern” over the “worrisome” law and order situation in the state. The 14 killed include nine BJP cadres in West Bengal, and four from TMC.
Mamata Banerjee-led TMC, which retained power in the state for the third time, has come under severe criticism from the BJP, with Left and the Congress leaders also condemning the post-poll violence against their cadre.
Hours after the PM’s conversation with the governor, BJP chief J.P. Nadda reached West Bengal on a two-day-visit and met the victims' families.
Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports on alleged post-poll violence, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a fact-finding team while noting that it considers the incidents “as a fit case of alleged violation of Right to Life of innocent citizens.” The National Commission for Women too constituted a fact-finding team to investigate alleged violence against women in various parts of the state. The BJP claimed that the violence is “state sponsored” and compared the TMC with "Nazis".
Among Tuesday's victims, three — Mintu Barman of Shitalkuchi and Haradhan Roy and Chandan Roy of Dinhata — were from the BJP which lost six cadres on Monday. The 14 deceased also include five from Burdwan East. Of them, four were from the ruling TMC. While two of them — Shahjahan Shah and Bibhas Bag — were killed Nabagram in Jamalpur, another, Ganesh Mullick, was beaten to death at Samaspur in Raina with an aged TMC panchayat member Srinibas Ghosh at Ketugram in three separate attacks by the BJP.
At Nabagram in Jamalpur, a female CPI(M) worker, Kakali Khetrapal, was hacked to death by a group of TMC workers during an attack on her home. Apart from the killings, several BJP offices and many party workers' houses were vandalised across the state.
On Mr Modi's worries, Mr Dhankhar tweeted, “PM called and expressed serious anguish and concern at the alarmingly worrisome law and order situation @MamataOfficial. I share grave concerns @PMOIndia given that violence vandalism, arson, loot and killings continue unabated. Concerned. Must act in overdrive to restore order.”
Lashing out at Mr Modi immediately, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien tweeted, "PM makes a call to West Bengal governor on ‘political violence’. (Exaggerated 214%). Stop the stunts, Mr Prime Minister. Work the phones on #COVID19India."
In a series of tweets earlier Mr Dhankhar said, "Police @WBPolice @CPKolkata must end senseless political violence, vandalism, arson, killings and intimidation that shames democracy. Bengali diaspora world over has expressed concern over alarming lawlessness. Why post poll violence only WB? Why this assault on democracy? Reports indicate horrendous state of affairs. Horrified people are fleeing to save themselves. Flooded with SOS appeals. Harmads are on a killing and destruction spree. Such nosediving of constitutional values cannot be countenanced. Call upon @MamataOfficial to restore order."
Mr Nadda claimed, "TMC knew that if BJP would have come to power in the state it would not be able to extort money and play its politics of appeasement. There is a list of names who attacked and killed our party workers. But no one was arrested. I assure that crores of BJP workers stand by each affected here. Their sacrifice will not go in vain. We will fight till the end to give justice to them."
On Wednesday, when TMC chief Mamata Banerjee will take her oath as the chief minister for the third consecutive time, the BJP would organise a nationwide demonstration against the killings of its workers.
Condemning the violence against Opposition parties workers, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jitin Prasad tweeted: “The post poll violence that has been unleashed by the TMC on the Congress workers is unacceptable. Even women and children are not spared. I am sure the people of West Bengal did not vote for this lawlessness.”
Tagging photographs, CPI(M) Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Are these reports of gruesome violence in Bengal TMC’s 'victory celebrations'? Condemnable. Will be resisted and rebuffed. Instead of focusing on combating the pandemic, TMC unleashed such mayhem. CPI(M) as always will be with the people to protect, assist, providing relief.”
Many BJP workers and supporters from the state have been sending distress signals to party leadership through social media platforms.
Senior BJP leader and Cabinet minister in Assan, Himanta Biswa Sharma, tweeted: “In a sad development 300-400 BJP karyakartas and family members have crossed over to Dhubri in Assam after being confronted with brazen persecution and violence. We are giving shelter and food. Mamata Didi must stop this ugly dance of democracy. Bengal deserves better.”
BJP leader Anirban Ganguly also tweeted that many BJP workers "had to leave their houses in Bolpur, Birbhum and other constituencies for their safety. They are spending their days in fear."