Birbhum violence: 11 arrested; MHA seeks report from Bengal government
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday sought a report from the West Bengal government after eight people, including two children, were charred to death in violence that broke out in the state's Birbhum district after the murder of local Trinamool Congress leader and panchayat deputy chief Bhadu Sheikh. Around 10 houses in the Rampurhat village were set on fire by unknown miscreants.
- The violence is said to have been a retaliation for the TMC leader's murder, however, police said they are yet to confirm the same.
- The move came after a nine-member delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs from West Bengal met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and sought his intervention and action against the "perpetrators of the crime."
Police have confirmed that 11 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence. An FIR has also been registered in connection with the murder of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh. West Bengal's DGP Manoj Malviya confirmed that the incident took place on Monday evening, however, it is yet to be ascertained whether it was in retaliation to the killing of the leader.
The incident has also triggered a political storm in the state with the Opposition BJP questioning the ruling TMC's refusal of the incident being political and demanding President's Rule in the state. Separately, BJP National President JP Nadda formed a fact-finding team to look into the incident. The team will reportedly reach Kolkata on Wednesday and will head for Birbhum on Thursday.
Reacting to the incident, BJP's Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari said that law and order are in "rapid freefall" in the state. Reportedly, Adhikari will also lead a group of MLAs to make an attempt to reach 'Ground Zero.' Adhikari also alleged "administrative cover-up" to "lower" the toll and sought the intervention of the central government.
Meanwhile, TMC has termed BJP's demand of President Rule as a conspiracy to malign it. "Deaths of the locals in fire incident is sad. But this incident has no political connection...This is a local village dispute...The panchayat deputy chief who was murdered was a well-known person and his death has angered the villagers, leading to the violent protest," said TMC General Secretary Kunal Ghosh.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the state's Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar after the latter described the incident as a "horrifying violence and arson orgy" while condemning it. Accusing the governor of making "unwarranted statements," Banerjee, in a letter, wrote, "Your statements have political overtones supporting other political parties to browbeat the Bengal government."
Horrifying violence and arson orgy #Rampurhat #Birbhum indicates state is in grip of violence culture and lawlessness. Already eight lives lost.— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) March 22, 2022
Have sought urgent update on the incident from Chief Secretary.
My thoughts are with the families of the bereaved. pic.twitter.com/vtI6tRJcBX