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A year on, 303 BJP workers who fled during post-poll violence in Bengal still fear returning home: Report

A horrifying spate of violence erupted following the declaration of 2021 assembly poll results in West Bengal as TMC goons reportedly went on a rampage, attacking their opponents and those they perceived to have voted against their party.

As West Bengal marks the first anniversary of the 2021 assembly elections, at least 303 workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party who left their homes during the horrifying post-poll violence have not yet returned home, a report published in India Today said. It is reported that they still fear for their lives and they have sought assurances from the state and the police so that they can go home.

It was on 2nd May 2021 that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Party returned to power in West Bengal with a majority. Soon after the poll victory, TMC goons reportedly went on a rampage against dissenters and political opponents, precipitating a humanitarian crisis. Consequently, many BJP workers were injured and killed during the attacks. Fearing for their life, a large number left their homes and fled to neighbouring Assam.

According to the report, Priyanka Tibrewal filed a petition in Calcutta High Court last year which said that there were at least 303 BJP workers and supporters who had fled their houses fearing violence in the wake of the TMC victory in the assembly elections.

Out of these 303 people, 47 victims were unable to return to their workplace, 92 were victims whose houses had been demolished, and 164 were victims who had been forcibly evicted from their homes and were thus unable to return to their places of residence.

Priyanka Tibrewal, the counsel representing the displaced people, said, “The affidavit that I had filed has 303 signatures of people who are not being able to get back to their homes due to fear. The high court has set up a committee to look into the allegations. I also know 150 more such people who are not able to enter their homes post results. As far as my knowledge, there will be around 1500-2000 people who have not been able to get back to their houses in West Bengal since election results of 2021.”

Shantanu Sarkar, a former army clerical officer and a BJP leader from North 24 Pargana’s Kankinara, is one among the 303 BJP members who were forced to leave their houses in the aftermath of the assembly poll results. After the election results were declared, miscreants vandalized CCTV cameras in his house. He fled his house anticipating the attack. Sarkar currently lives with his wife Reena in a two-room rented flat away from his hometown.

Shantanu Sarkar said, “I was always a target because I was a powerful BJP leader in Panpura in North 24 Parganas. The moment my CCTVs were vandalized on May 2, I realized that it is unsafe for me to stay in my own house. I left. It cost me around Rs 30 lakhs to build that house, I have filed for remuneration to the local police and SDPO. However, I haven’t received anything yet.”

He further said, “After the high court order, I went to my house with local police on October 16, 2021. The house was badly vandalized. Court had asked for police deployment outside the house, but what happens when we go out? We don’t have police protection. Who knows if I or my wife are attacked in the market? Or the station? Court and administration need to assure us of safety.”

Subol is another BJP member who lives in a village in Rajendrapur at Nahihati which is at a distance of 16 kilometres from the rented house of Shantanu Sarkar. He was an active member of the BJP in Panpura and fled with his wife and son from their house on the night of the elections to the Jagaddal assembly seat on 22nd April 2022.

Telling more about this, he said, “In total, six people from my house in Kankinara never returned to our home. Me, my wife, my son, my brother, and his wife, and my sister. We left that house due to fear. My mother and brother’s family are still there. They were harassed badly by local TMC workers because I am still in BJP. My brother received threat calls. When they got out of their houses, they were abused. Beer bottles were hurled at my house. How do I stay there?”

Subol’s wife, Tumpa, said, “My son Aneesh used to study in Kankinara, as long as online classes were happening, it was okay. Now we have enrolled him in a local school in Rajendrapur. Who will go to drop him off? My husband can’t enter the area, I am also scared to go there.”

Subol further added, “Two months back I had visited my mother wearing a helmet at night so that no one could recognize me. Stayed for a short while and returned. My mother wants me to return back, but unless I get assurance from the court and administration about the safety of my family outside the house, how can I? Where will I get police support if I am attacked when I am buying things in the market?”

Political violence in West Bengal by the TMC goons is not a new thing. Not only after the results of the assembly election of 2021 but also before that and during the run-up to the general elections held in 2019, attacks on BJP workers and leaders by TMC goons were an everyday affair. Hurling petrol bombs, thrashing people, and even murders have become a hallmark of West Bengal under the TMC rule. The BJP has claimed that several of its party workers have been killed and over 4,000 houses were ransacked in incidents of post-poll violence. A year after the post-poll violence, the BJP workers are still waiting for a safe environment so that they can go back to their homes.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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