A day after four people were killed in violence that erupted over the formation of panchayat board across West Bengal, clashes continued even on Tuesday. Massive clashes were reported from Howrah and North Dinajpur, Itahar and Daspara as cadres of three major parties in state-TMC, Congress and BJP continued their demonstration. More than 30 people were injured in the clashes, including five police personnel.
Party workers hurled crude bombs and pelted stones at each other. Police rushed to the spot to control the situation but was instead attacked by the agitated crowd. They hurled stones at the police injuring several policemen. Party cadres even torched a police vehicle in Itahar. Police had to resort to tear gas shelling and lath-charge to contain the protesting crowd.
Bombs were hurled and bullets fired in the clashes at Daspara and Itahar GP under Chopra police station limits. The clash at Itahar broke out after Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers allegedly obstructed GP members from the BJP from voting to elect office bearers, the police said.
Thirteen activists of the TMC and the BJP were injured in the clash. Five policemen were also injured and a police jeep was torched in the incident.
Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel and a large police contingent rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control, the police said.
The clash in Daspara erupted when CPI(M) and Congress workers allegedly prevented elected independent members from taking part in the voting, they said.
The two parties claimed that these members had contested the panchayat polls with their backing, but switched sides to join the TMC after winning.
TMC workers came to the aid of these members and 12 people were injured in the ensuing violence, the police said, adding that four houses were also set on fire.
The situation was brought under control by the RAF and the police using a water cannon.
Local residents claimed that the police also fired in the air, but it could not be confirmed.
Later, TMC candidates were elected as heads of both the GPs.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out in Howrah's Uluberia area over the formation of the panchayat board for the second consecutive day.
While addressing a gathering at a TMC Chhatra Parishad foundation day program, party supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that outsiders from Jharkhand were creating unrest in the panchayat board formation.
"BJP is helping outsiders from Jharkhand to enter into Bengal and create an environment of unrest. BJP believes in the idea of political murders. They killed a veteran TMC leader in Jhargram. We are not going to take this lightly,” said Banerjee.
Meanwhile, hitting back at the TMC, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said that the panchayat board formation was not done in a fair manner. He added that the formation of the boards cannot be allowed unless an assurance is given on the fair conduct of the board formation process. Launching a scathing attack on Mamata Banerjee, Ghosh said that instead of dreaming of becoming the next Prime Minister, she should be concerned about restoring law and order in the state.
The ruling party has been misusing and abusing the police machinery and administration to win polls. The BJP is committed to end this reign of terror in Bengal," he said.
Ghosh charged the TMC leaders of employing "undemocratic ways" to suppress people.
"The TMC is trying to terrorize people in former Maoist belt of Junglemahal as they had voted against the party in the panchayat polls. They are trying to suppress the voice of people," he said.
Meanwhile, the formation of panchayat board was postponed in Purulia after two BJP members were killed amidst violent clashes. The district magistrate of Purulia district issued a special order postponing the formation of the board comprising 32 seats. Clashes had erupted between party cadres of the BJP and TMC over panchayat board formation at Purulia’s Raghunathpur and Joypur on Monday.
Two people were left dead whom the BJP claimed that they were BJP members. Five others were seriously injured in the clashes. In a similar incident, two TMC members were killed in a factional feud over panchayat board formation in Malda district.