Six women, two children burnt to death in Bengal’s Birbhum

Miscreants set on fire several huts following the killing of a Trinamool deputy pradhan; 7 charred bodies recovered from one house alone.

March 22, 2022 03:25 pm | Updated March 23, 2022 12:16 am IST - KOLKATA

Charred remains of houses that were set on fire at Rampurhat in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on March 22, 2022.

Charred remains of houses that were set on fire at Rampurhat in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on March 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Eight people, six women and two children, were burnt to death in violence that erupted at Baktui village in West Bengal ‘s Birbhum district on Tuesday following the murder of a deputy pradhan of the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Several houses were set on fire after the murder and seven charred bodies recovered from one house alone. One person died of burn injuries at a hospital in Birbhum, the police said.

Director General of Police (DGP) Manoj Malaviya said the police were probing the connection between the murder and the violence. A special investigation team (SIT), comprising ADG CID Gyanwant Singh, IG Burdwan Zone B. L. Meena and DIG CID (Ops) Meeraj Khalid, had been set up to probe the incident.

“It is not political rivalry. It could be deep-rooted personal enmity between two groups,” the DGP said. Miscreants hurled bombs at deputy pradhan Bhadu Sheikh on Monday evening and he sustained grievous injuries. According to villagers, after his death, miscreants set several huts on fire. Senior police officers said the retaliation was immediate. Seven bodies were recovered from the house of Sanju Sheikh. 

Police officers suspended

The SDPO of Rampurhat and the officer in charge of the local police station have been removed after the incident. The situation in the village was under control, Mr. Malaviya said.

Villagers alleged that about 10 houses were set on fire following the murder of the TMC leader, who hailed from the same village

Minister and senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim said, “A deputy pradhan has been killed. We have to find out whether the incident has anything to do with the houses being set on fire.” After visiting the village that falls under the Rampurhat subdivision, he stated that there was a greater conspiracy at work to defame West Bengal by the Opposition.

TMC district president Anubrata Mondal said the fire may have been triggered by a short circuit.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee tabled a statement in the Assembly, calling the incident “unfortunate”.  “This massive conspiracy has been hatched to tarnish the image of the State government,” he added.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted, “Horrifying violence and arson orgy #Rampurhat #Birbhum indicates state is in grip of violence culture and lawlessness. Already eight lives lost”. He noted that he had sought an urgent update from the Chief Secretary on the matter.

Opposition demand

 The Opposition hit out at the Trinamool Congress and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who holds the Home portfolio.

 The BJP MLAs walked out of the Assembly in protest against the violence. The BJP MPs from the State have written a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the “unabated post-poll violence and deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal”.  

State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said West Bengal was heading towards President’s rule. Mr. Majumdar who met the Home Minister said Mr. Shah assured the delegation that the Home Ministry would seek a report from the State government in 72 hours, following which a team would visit the State to review the law and order situation.

Take action against govt: BJP

Forty-five MLAs of the BJP, led by Suvendu Adhikari interacted with Mr. Dhankhar virtually. “We told the Governor that there is no more scope of discussion and it is high time to take action against the State government,” Mr. Adhikari said. The Governor should invoke Article 356 or Article 355 of the Constitution and that the National Investigation Agency must probe the incident of violence, he added.

The matter was brought to the notice before Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Prakash Srivastava, who will hear the case tomorrow.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Md. Salim described the incident as a “massacre”. He said attempts were being made to suppress the incident. He also described the SIT as an attempt at “suppression of investigation and truth”. 

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