A 65-year-old Hindu man died of stab wounds and violence erupted in parts of West Bengal’s Basirhat region that has been rocked by communal clashes for three days over a controversial Facebook post.
Kartik Ghosh, a resident of Bhyabla in Basirhat subdivision, was attacked with sharp weapons on Wednesday when he was returning home from market on a motorcycle.
This was the first death in violence that has swept the Basirhat region, barely 12 kilometres from the Bangladesh border, that has injured at least 23 people. Since Sunday evening, Muslim mobs have set shops and buildings on fire and clashed with police, angered by an offensive post on Facebook by a Class 11 Hindu student.
Hindu mobs attacked a dargah and vandalised shops with Muslim owners, forcing the police to resort to caning and firing tear gas shells. Local sources said some Hindus were angered by alleged vandalism on a temple in the area a day ago.
The violence has taken a political colour with the BJP accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of appeasing Muslims and the ruling Trinamool Congress alleging the governor was behaving like a BJP leader.
A team of three BJP?MPs — Meenakshi Lekhi, Satpal Singh and Om Mathur — will visit Basirhat on Friday for an on-the-spot investigation, following which they will submit a report to party president Amit Shah.
After the death was announced, a scuffle broke out between BJP workers and Trinamool supporters at the RG Kar Hospital premises with the ruling party supporters bent on preventing BJP workers and leaders from meeting the family members of Ghosh.
But the state government turned down a proposal by the Centre to dispatch four companies of paramilitary forces — an equal number is already deployed — on the grounds that the situation was becoming normal fast. No new clashes were reported from Baduria, the epicentre of the violence.
BJP?state president claimed Ghosh was the ward president of the party in Basirhat.
However, the two sons of Ghosh, Provasish and Debasish, claimed that their father was not involved with any political party.
A police team led by deputy commissioner (North) of Kolkata Police was present to tackle the situation.
“He was a worker of our party. We came here offer condolence and meet his family members. But Trinamool Congress workers did not allow us to meet them,” remarked BJP national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya who went to the hospital in north Kolkata.
“We have heard he was hacked and was admitted here. We came here to inquire about his condition. But Trinamool Congress workers prevented us from meeting him or the members of his family,” said Locket Chatterjee, BJP leader in West Bengal. She went to the hospital on Thursday morning.
“I would like to ask Mamata Banerjee why are you are stopping us from meeting the family members instead of taking action against the rioters?” asked BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.