Kolkata: An altercation broke out between police and a group of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district on Sunday when they were stopped from taking bodies of slain party workers to Kolkata.
Soon after, the saffron party decided to observe 'Black Day' across the state on Monday. It has also called for a 12-hour general strike in the Basirhat sub-division on Monday and a 'condemnation march' to the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar on June 12.
On Saturday, three persons were killed in a clash between the Trinamool and BJP workers in the Hatgachi area of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district, over removal of party flags.
Though police have confirmed three deaths — two from the BJP and one from the Trinamool Congress — in the clashes, the two parties claimed to have lost a few more of their party supporters.
A BJP delegation visiting the area decided to take bodies of the two party workers to Kolkata for last rites. But the convoy was stopped thrice by police, claiming it may cause law and order issues in the state capital.
The BJP convoy, including two hearses, had bypassed the two police barricades near Sandeshkhali's Malancha Crossing before being stopped at Minakhan.
The BJP leaders, including state party chief Dilip Ghosh and national secretary Rahul Sinha, argued with police demanding the vehicles be allowed to go as the party workers shouted slogans, like 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'BJP Zindabad'.
"The family members of the deceased have decided to perform last rites in Kolkata. How can police stop them? It is their duty to stop murderers and criminals and not the dead," said Sinha.
"I told them there will be no rallies in Kolkata. They (bodies) will just be kept at the BJP headquarters to let people pay their last respects. Still police are stopping us," he said.
Later, he wrote on Twitter that democracy was being strangulated in the state.
We have been stopped at 3 places. I have already assured that there will be no marches.We will peacefully take the bodies to the party office so that others can pay their tribute before their cremation.What kind of rule is this? Democracy is being strangulated in this state. pic.twitter.com/8y4HfY4eQ8— Rahul Sinha (@RahulSinhaBJP) June 9, 2019
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee accused the police personnel of working for the Trinamool Congress. "This is unethical. Police cannot stop us legally. If needed we will carry the bodies to Kolkata on our shoulders," she said.
"We condemn the role of police and the state administration who acted like silent spectators when our workers were killed by Trinamool goons. We will hold 'Black Day' across Bengal tomorrow (Monday). Also, there will be a 12-hour general strike across the Basirhat subdivision," Sinha said.
"To protest against the complete lapse of law and order in Bengal, we will hold a mega condemnation rally in Kolkata on June 12," he added.
The rally will start from Wellington Square and go to Lalbazar, the leader said.
Sinha further wrote on Twitter, "I have spoken to Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi, who has assured me that he will speak to senior officials. Police couldn't prevent the murders and are now stopping us from cremating the bodies."
The BJP claimed four of its workers were shot dead and several others were missing. The Trinamool Congress alleged its three workers were killed.
A TMC delegation, comprising state Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick and senior leaders Tapas Roy and Madan Mitra, visited the family of Qayyum Mollah, one of the victim of clashes.
The BJP workers also blocked roads and held demonstrations in Bankura, Hooghly, Howrah, Midnapore, Malda, Barackpore, Naihati and North and South Kolkata. A number of BJP supporters were arrested while holding a protest near the party's state headquarters in central Kolkata.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to West Bengal, expressing "deep concern" over continuing violence in state even after conclusion of the general elections.
(With inputs from IANS)