The West Bengal panchayat polls continued to be marred by incidents of violence as a Trinamool Congress leader was allegedly shot dead and a Congress worker was attacked while they were campaigning in Haj Bibi Danga village in Murshidabad district on Thursday night, police said. Both the TMC and Congress have alleged each other’s involvement in the two incidents.
The deceased TMC leader, Mozammel Haque (42), was the party’s regional president of Sahebnagar.
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Police said Congress candidate Ramzan Sheikh’s father was allegedly shot at while he was campaigning for his son in the same village, which falls under Panchgram area under Navgram police station of Murshidabad district. His father, Mahrullah Sheikh, was also a Congress worker.
The TMC leader’s killing comes a day after three people died in poll-related violence in the state on Thursday, which was the last day to file nominations for the panchayat polls. While a CPI(M) worker was killed in gun firing in Chopra in North Dinajpur district, two – one from Indian Secular Front (ISF) and another from ruling TMC – were killed in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district, where clashes have been taking place since Tuesday. West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose also visited the town on Friday and met with the victims’ families ad According to sources, as Haque’s procession reached Haj Bibi Danga village, a group of men surrounded him and allegedly fired two rounds of bullets. Haque fell on the ground after being shot and was taken to the hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead, police said.
TMC MLA and the party’s Jangipur organisational district chairman Kanaichandra Mondal reached the spot after the incident. “Haque was killed by Congress-backed miscreants,” Mondal alleged. He also called for a 12-hour bandh in Navagram on Friday to protest against the killing of the TMC leader.
In the same village, the father of Congress candidate Ramzan Sheikh was allegedly shot at by unidentified attackers. Police said Sheikh’s father Mahrullah Sheikh was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition. Police have been deployed in the area, they added.
“Both incidents are under investigation. A murder case has been filed in connection with Haque’s death,” said a senior police official. Hitting out at the ruling TMC, Congress said, “The Trinamool has sheltered the men who tried to kill Mahrullah.”
Congress district spokesperson Jayant Das said, “The Trinamool is trying to disrupt the polls by creating an atmosphere of fear. Congress workers will stop them even at the cost of their lives.”’
Earlier in June, a Congress worker was allegedly shot dead outside his home in Murshidabad district’s Khargram area on June 9 – the first day of filing nominations for the panchayat polls.
Meanwhile, Bhangar remained on edge on Friday as well after alleged incidents of violence were reported from the town. Sources said crude bombs were recovered from a house near Bhangar police station. The bombs were disposed of by the bomb disposal squad.
BJP’s Sukanta Maumdar writes to Amit Shah
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s state president Sukanta Majumdar wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday regarding the alleged incidents of violence reported during the filling of nominations for panchayat elections in the state. In the letter, Majumdar highlighted the situation in the state and requested for immediate intervention of the Centre.
“Considering the gravity of the situation, I request your immediate intervention and proactive measures to address the concerns in West Bengal. It is crucial to prioritize the safety of the people and guarantee a free and transparent election. I urge you to expedite the deployment of central forces as per the Kolkata High Court order, to maintain law and order, and to prevent any further incidents of violence or disruption,” the letter stated.
Majumdar also visited the residence of a BJP candidate whose house was allegedly vandalised in Jyotishpur area of Uttar Basanti in South 24 Parganas district.
BJP candidate Aparna Halder had filed nomination from booth number 222 of Jyotishpur Gram Panchayat on Thursday. Her husband Santu Halder is the president of that booth. Sources said, a group of 50-60 people allegedly vandalised their home while they were out. The BJP has alleged that TMC workers were behind the incident and that they allegedly broke into the cupboards and made off with jewellery and cash.
“The situation in West Bengal is not conducive for voting. People are being attacked especially in South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur… Is this India or some other place? We have seen such incidents happening in Afghanistan…This is not acceptable, we will go to the Election Commission and raise the matter with Amit Shah and the Governor,” said Majumdar.