Siliguri rally: BJP worker dies amid clash with Bengal cops
A senior worker of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) died on Monday during the party's rally in Siliguri, West Bengal. At the rally, BJP workers clashed with police officers in riot gear, who used teargas shells and water cannons to disperse the protesting workers. The rally was intended to be the BJP's show of strength ahead of next year's state Assembly polls.
Tejasvi Surya—BJP MP and the National President of the party's youth wing—identified the deceased as senior party worker Ulen Roy. Surya tweeted saying that Roy "succumbed to splinter injuries caused by the country bombs that Mamata's [Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee] police threw." He wrote, "This is murder." BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said the deceased had been injured after being baton-charged by the police.
The West Bengal Police said in a statement, "Serious acts of violence were committed by the supporters of a political party during their protest. The police only used water cannons and teargas to disperse the violent crowd." The statement added, "The death of a person has been reported. The actual cause of death will be known only after a post-mortem."
As part of the rally, named 'Uttarkanya Abhiyan,' BJP supporters had planned to march to the state secretariat in north Bengal in protest against the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government. The BJP has alleged that the TMC government has not fulfilled its promises and has deprived people of the benefits of welfare schemes launched by the BJP-led central government.
The workers reportedly clashed with the police when they were stopped from moving past barricades at two points near the branch secretariat. Local reports said that protesters retaliated by pelting stones at the police. Some of them had reportedly torched bamboo barricades and destroyed steel barricades as well. Several BJP workers and police officers are reported to have been injured in the ensuing clash.
TMC MP and spokesperson Saugata Roy said, "The violence was a public display of the violence the BJP believes in. Its workers provoked the police to open fire. I thank the police for handling the situation. The BJP will fail to create disturbance in Bengal."