- A woman who had suffered burns in the petrol bomb attack in Birbhum died on Monday.
- The Birbhum killings also spawned violence in Bengal’s legislature.
- Out of the nine deceased, seven are women and two are children.
A woman who had suffered burns in the petrol bomb attack in Bogtui village in Birbhum district last week died in a hospital on Monday, raising the toll to nine, a police officer said. The Birbhum killings also spawned violence in Bengal’s legislature, with legislators of the ruling TMC and the BJP exchanging fisticuffs overheated arguments on the Birbhum killings, prompting the speaker to suspend five saffron party MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. Out of the nine deceased, seven are women and two are children.
"The woman, Najema Bibi, who died today, had nearly 65 per cent burn injuries. Her condition deteriorated last night following which she was put on ventilation in the Rampurhat Government Medical College and Hospital. She finally succumbed to her injuries this morning," the police officer said. Three persons, including a boy, are still undergoing treatment at the same hospital.
The CBI probing the case could not record Najema Bibi’s statement on Sunday, when its sleuths visited the hospital, as her condition was critical, a CBI officer told PTI. Some eight people were burnt to death in the early hours of March 21, after unknown assailants attacked some 10 houses in Bogtui village near Rampurhat with petrol bombs setting them on fire. The attack is suspected to have been planned as revenge for the murder of a local TMC leader with its roots in rivalry over illegal sand mining.
Meanwhile, shortly after the House assembled at 11 am, pandemonium reigned as BJP MLAs trooped to the well, demanding a statement by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the "worsening" law and order situation in the wake of the Birbhum killings. Speaker Biman Banerjee tried to pacify the BJP MLAs, who continued with sloganeering inside the House, leading to a war of words with legislators of the treasury bench and an eventual ugly scuffle. Adhikari then walked out of the assembly, claiming that TMC MLAs roughed up his party legislators.
"MLAs are not safe even inside the assembly... At least 8-10 of our legislators were beaten up, including Chief Whip Manoj Tigga, by some TMC MLAs, as we demanded that the CM make a statement in the House on the law and order issue," Adhikari said.
TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim claimed the BJP had staged a drama to create chaos in the assembly. "Few of our MLAs were injured inside the House. We condemn the conduct of the BJP," he said.
Among those who were injured in the melee were TMC MLA Asit Majumdar and BJP chief whip Manoj Tigga, both of whom were taken to hospital. While Majumdar claimed that Adhikari had punched him on the nose, the BJP leader denied the charge.
Adhikari, along with BJP legislators Dipak Burman, Shankar Ghosh, Manoj Tigga, and Narahari Mahato, were suspended by the Speaker for the entire session till the House is prorogued. Prorogation is discontinuing a session of Parliament or a legislative assembly without dissolving it.
"What happened today is completely unacceptable. The way in which the five MLAs behaved with the women staff of the House is a shame for parliamentary democracy," he told reporters, adjourning the assembly sine die.
The BJP, however, denied all allegations and accused the ruling TMC of letting loose a reign of terror in the assembly. “They are running the government in an authoritarian manner. We will not tolerate this," Adhikari said, adding, he will meet the Speaker with an appeal to revoke the suspension.