Bengal news: BJP woman worker killed ahead of Phase 6 Lok Sabha polls; protests erupt in Nandigram

State BJP wrote to the chief electoral officer of West Bengal requesting to remove the SP of Purba Medinipur district immediately. They also alleged that murder was the consequence of inflammatory statements made by CM Mamata Banerjee

Livemint
First Published23 May 2024
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers stage a protest against West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee, at Hazratganj crossing, in Lucknow on Thursday.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers stage a protest against West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee, at Hazratganj crossing, in Lucknow on Thursday. (ANI)

With less than 48 hours left for the sixth phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, a woman worker of the BJP was killed in Nandigram in West Bengal's Purba Medinipur district. She reportedly belonged to the Scheduled Caste community. 

Her murder triggered large-scale protests by saffron party activists there on Thursday, news agency PTI reported quoting police. To protest the BJP woman worker's death, workers of the saffron party burned tyres, blocked roads, and closed shops in Nandigram.

Nandigram falls under the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat and is considered to be the backyard of Bengal's leader of opposition, Suvendu Adhikari. The constituency is scheduled to vote on May 25.

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The protestors have alleged that TMC-backed criminals were responsible for the killing of Rathibala Arhi, a BJP worker in Sonachura village. 

PTI quoted police saying that Rathibala's son Sanjay and seven others were injured after unidentified assailants attacked them on Wednesday night.

Police, central forces and RAF personnel deployed in the area had to restore to lathi-charge to disperse the mob, officials said, adding a person was detained by police in connection with the alleged murder.

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A bandh was called by the BJP in Nandigram as part of the protest, but was withdrawn later, a local leader said.

"Rathibala and several other party workers were tasked with the job of guarding a local polling booth last night after poll campaigns in the area ended for the day. TMC-backed criminals attacked them. She was murdered and others were left badly injured," BJP district general secretary Meghnadh Paul told PTI.

After Sanjay's condition turned "very critical", he was shifted to a hospital in the city, Paul said, adding that others are being treated at a local medical establishment.

Also read: 'After June 4, action against corrupt will intensify...': PM Modi in Bengal's Purulia

Nandigram TMC leader Swadesh Das dismissed the allegations and claimed, "There were some family disputes and the killing could be connected to it."

The murder snowballed into a political slugfest with the BJP and the TMC pointing fingers at each other. 

‘Murder orchestrated by Trinamool Congress’

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, in an oblique reference to TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee's public speech, alleged the bloodshed was a direct fallout of Bhaipo (nephew)'s provocation in Nandigram yesterday. 

"The murder was orchestrated by the Trinamool after realising its certain defeat. The hands of the jihadis do not tremble before hacking a woman to death. The BJP will see this through to its end, exact revenge in a legal manner, and respond by democratic means," he said.

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The BJP leader later visited the hospital where the injured people are being treated. He also went to Nandigram police station and spoke to the officers there and alleged that they held a meeting with the "prime accused" in this case.

Bengal BJP also wrote to the chief electoral officer of West Bengal requesting to remove the SP of Purba Medinipur district immediately.

The BJP also alleged that the woman's murder was the "consequence of inflammatory statements made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally in Haldia on May 16."

Also read: ‘I will visit Sandeshkhali when…’ — here is what Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said in Basirhat

"The murder is a direct consequence of the remarks made by Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Haldia on May 16. Banerjee had said she will take revenge on the people of Nandigram for her defeat during the 2021 assembly elections," the BJP wrote to the poll body.

TMC leader Santanu Sen, however, called the incident a "reflection of BJP's internal feud between the party's old-timers and its new recruits in Nandigram".

"The BJP realises that come Saturday, it will fare badly in the region. In its desperation, the BJP is trying to pin the reflections of its factional fights on the Trinamool," Sen alleged.

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