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As West Bengal panchayat elections inch closer, Mamata’s TMC unleashes ‘Khela’ of violence against Opposition. Here is what happened

The ongoing violence in West Bengal is part of the ruling dispensation's playbook to intimidate the Opposition parties.

Ahead of the Panchayat polls that are scheduled to take place on July 8 this year, the State of West Bengal is witnessing an orgy of political violence.

Goons, associated with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party, have created an atmosphere of chaos and unrest since the commencement of the filing of poll nominations. So far, at least 3 people have lost their lives.

The ongoing violence in West Bengal is part of the ruling dispensation’s playbook to intimidate the Opposition parties. The State has witnessed similar cases during the infamous 2021 Vidhan Sabha election and the 2022 civic body polls.

Congress worker killed by TMC goons in Murshidabad

On the night of June 9, 2023, a Congress worker by the name of Fulchand Sheik was shot dead at his residence in Ratnapur village in the Khargram community development block in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

Reportedly, the deceased was a nominee of the Congress party for the upcoming Panchayat elections in the State. The police arrested two accused, identified as one Safique Sheikh and Kaber Sheikh, on June 10.

Both of them are said to be the workers of the Trinamool Congress party. They were presented before the Kandi sub-divisional court, which remanded the duo to 5 days in police custody.

Meanwhile, TMC Block President (Khargam) Shamsher Momin conceded, “How can we deny that those arrested are our workers?” According to the family members of Fulchand Sheik, the accused killed him for deserting the TMC and joining hands with the Congress party.

“Trinamool activists killed my husband as he was likely to win the election on a Congress ticket. I want justice as a wife and a mother of two minor children,” lamented the deceased’s wife Manija Khatun. Besides Fulchand Sheik, two others were gravely injured in the attack.

While speaking about the matter, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “The police are protecting the Trinamul leaders accused of involvement in the murder. It shows complete lawlessness in the area at a time the state election commission is promising to conduct free and fair elections.”

Violence breaks out between TMC, CPIM and Congress workers

On June 10, 2023, violence broke out between the ruling Trinamool Congress party workers and those belonging to the CPIM-Congress alliance. The incident took place in Domkal in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

According to workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), foot soldiers of the TMC surrounded the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO) and attacked them.

Later, workers of the CPIM and Congress came together and chased away Trinamool Congress goons. Reportedly, both groups pelted stones at each other. Several vehicles in the area were damaged.

Amidst the chaos, a TMC leader by the name of Bashir Mollah was arrested for illegal possession of a pistol in Domkal. He was taken to a nearby police station

Mob attacks cops in Canning

A violent clash broke out near the BDO office in Canning in South 24 Parganas while several BJP and other opposition party leaders had arrived to file nomination papers for the panchayat elections.

Canning Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Dibakar Das said, “There was a clash between two groups. The mob attacked the Police as well. I was also injured. Some Policemen got minor injuries. 2 people were injured. They are undergoing treatment at the hospital and are currently stable. We have arrested 17-18 people. The incident is being investigated.”

CPIM worker killed in firing in Uttar Dinajpur

On Thursday (June 15), a Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker named Mansur Alam was killed after being fired upon by members of the ruling Trinamool Congress party. The incident took place in Chopra community development block in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal.

Alam was en route to the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO) for filing his nomination papers, when he was shot dead. Two other CPI(M) workers were critically injured in the attack.

The duo was rushed to the Islampur sub-district hospital. One of the injured CPI(M) workers narrated, “We were going to submit nominations in a group at the BDO office when we were attacked by  TMC supporters. We were also beaten up.”

A video of the incident was shared on Twitter by prominent Communist leader, Mohammed Salim. The Trinamool Congress has however denied the allegations.

TMC MLA (Chopra) Hamidul Rahman claimed it to be a case of infighting in the Opposition camp. He remarked, “None of our workers or supporters went to the place where the incident took place. They (Opposition workers) fought among themselves…”

Clashes between TMC and ISF in Bhangar

Members of the ruling Trinamool Congres and the Islamist party ‘Indian Secular Front’ (ISF) clashed several times in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district between June 13 and June 15.

Reportedly, stones and bombs were hurled at each other by both political groups. ISF has accused the Trinamool Congress of preventing their candidates from filing nomination papers. One worker of the party, identified as Mohammad Mohiuddin Molla, was killed on June 15, 2023.

“Two of our party workers have been killed and four others injured… I will not go back to my house. I don’t want to die,” remarked ISF leader Kutumuddin Molla.

ISF MLA, Naushad Siddiqui, also said, “TMC supporters snatched our candidates’ nomination files in front of the police. The state police are incompetent to handle the situation.”

Given that it was the last day for filing nomination papers, the deadline was extended till late in the night on the directions of the Calcutta High Court. The panchayat elections for 75000 seats are scheduled to take place on July 8 while the counting is scheduled for July 11.

Calcutta HC orders the deployment of central forces

On Thursday (June 15), the Calcutta High Court, led by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam, ordered that Central Paramilitary forces should be deployed in all districts in West Bengal during the upcoming Panchayat Polls on July 8.

The court directed that the State Election Commission should request the central govt for central forces. It is notable that the State government had opposed deploying central forces, and had offered to deploy police from opposition-ruled states to ensure fair elections.

The State Election Commission had approached the High Court requesting to reconsider the order to deploy central forces in sensitive areas, but instead, the court ordered to deploy the forces in all the districts. The court was not happy with the plea by the SEC. The

Bomb-making material recovered in South 24 Parganas

On Friday (June 16), the West Bengal police recovered bomb-making material in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. A total of seven bags filled with husk-like material were recovered.

As per a report by The Indian Express, West Bengal has now become the hub for the ‘crude bomb’ cottage industry and children in the poor and marginalised areas of the State are paying the price for it.

The newspaper interviewed the families of 24 victims, who had either lost their lives in crude bomb attacks or been gravely injured between 2021 and 2022. The incidents took place across 5 districts of West Bengal, namely, North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Birbhum, Malda, and South 24 Parganas.

Bomb-making has become a profitable business due to the easy accessibility and procurement of raw materials. Crude bombs, such as the commonly used “Peto” and “Lal Sada,” are priced at an average of just over ₹150 in rural areas, making them a cost-effective choice for criminal activities.

2021 post-poll violence in West Bengal

Using violence as an instrument to subdue their political opponents has become a distinctive feature of the TMC rule in West Bengal. Ever since the Mamata Banerjee-led retained power in the state, the persecution of dissenters and opposition workers has only intensified.

More than a dozen BJP workers lost their lives in the post-poll violence that ensued following the victory of the TMC party in the assembly elections. There were reports that said women in West Bengal were raped, assaulted and, in some cases, even killed, just because they adhered to a different political ideology.

In 2021, a victim who was raped by the TMC goons in front of her father shared her harrowing ordeal with OpIndia. She narrated how she was attacked and sexually assaulted by perpetrators associated with the TMC party.

In the aftermath of the assembly election results, TMC goons wreaked havoc, attacking and plundering the houses of their opponents. In one such attack, TMC goons lynched BJP worker Avijit Sarkar to death.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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