Four more people were arrested from West Bengal’s Jhargram district for their alleged involvement in the attack on senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee's convoy and also on the vehicle of State Minister Birbaha Hansda, police said on Sunday.
Kurmi Samaj West Bengal’s president Rajesh Mahato and Adivasi Janajati Kurmi Samaj State chief Shibaji Mahato were among the four, who were initially detained and later arrested in connection with the case, a senior officer of the district police said.
With these arrests, the total number of people apprehended in connection with the attack on Mr. Banerjee’s convoy and Ms. Hansda’s vehicle became eight.
“We have arrested Rajesh Mahato, his brother Rakesh, Shibaji Mahato and Anubhab Mahato in connection with the case. They were produced before a local court,” the officer said.
Leader of Opposition and BJP legislator Suvendu Adhikari condemned the arrests and alleged that the “ruling TMC was targetting the leaders of Kurmi outfits, which are in no way involved in the attack" on Mr. Banerjee’s convoy.
Mr. Adhikari said he would extend all legal assistance to the arrested Kurmi leaders if they approached him.
Ms. Hansda's vehicle was vandalised as stones were allegedly hurled at Mr. Banerjee's convoy when they were travelling to Gajimul near Lodhasuli after leading a roadshow in Jhargram town on Friday, police said.
Glass particles from the shattered windscreen of the car hit Ms. Hansda, and also injured her driver. Some cars and motorcycles that were following them were also damaged in the stone pelting.
Four people, who were arrested on Saturday, were identified as Ajit Mahato, Anit Mahato, Manmohit Mahato and Anup Mahato. The accused were apprehended after hours of questioning. When produced at a court, they were sent to three days in police custody.
Police said the accused dressed as members of Kurmi outfits, tying yellow bands on their foreheads.
Members of the Kurmi community are protesting in the region for weeks, demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Alleging that the BJP was behind the attack, Mr. Banerjee gave a "48-hour ultimatum" to the Kurmi outfits, asking them to clarify if their members were associated with the violence.
Hours before his arrest, Rajesh Mahato had on Saturday claimed that certain persons were trying to tarnish the image of their peaceful protest.