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BJP, TMC Blame Each Other after Several Injured in Clashes during Central Team's Visit to Bhatpara

BJP, TMC Blame Each Other after Several Injured in Clashes during Central Team's Visit to Bhatpara

The BJP central leadership had asked a team led by Ahluwalia, an MP from West Bengal, to visit Bhatpara and meet family members of those deceased in the recent clashes with TMC workers and talk to the locals.

Kolkata: Clashes once again broke out in North 24 Parganas' Bhatpara when a three-member BJP delegation, led by former Union minister SS Ahluwalia, arrived in the trouble-torn region on Saturday. The central team also comprised newly-elected MPs and former police officers Satyapal Singh and BD Ram.

A group of people, suspected to be BJP supporters, raised slogans of "Bengal Police haye haye", "Mamata Banerjee haye haye", forcing the police to use batons to disperse the crowd.

The visit by the central delegation came a day after two people were killed and 11 injured in clashes between two groups believed to be affiliated to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the saffron party. The team of ministers, who were also accompanied by Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh, claimed that the two had lost their lives in police firing.

"We spoke to the family members and locals. We got portions of spent self-loading rifle (SLR) bullets used by the police on Thursday to shoot the BJP workers," Ahluwalia said.

"The police is saying they fired in the air. If they had done that, how can it hit humans?" he asked. "We will submit our detailed report to party president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He is concerned with the ongoing violence in the area."

However, the police and the ruling TMC called the observation baseless. Party secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the BJP delegation's visit was aimed at increasing tension in the area.

"What is the purpose of their visit? he asked. "Section 144 has been in force in the area, but the BJP is visiting there. The police should have taken action against them for violating Section 144."

A senior officer said the BJP leadership had taken prior permission for the visit.

Moments after the three-member BJP delegation left the area, two groups, one led by the BJP and other by the TMC, engaged in a pitched battle as both sides hurled country-made bombs and stones at each other. Several persons were injured in the incident.

A huge police contingent led by Barrackpore Police Commissioner Manoj Verma conducted route march as part of the area domination exercise. "The situation is completely under control. We are keeping a close watch on the situation," Verma said.

Two people had died and 11 injured in clashes in Bhatpara between the groups suspected to be attached to TMC and BJP on Thursday. Section 144 has been imposed by the administration in the wake of the clashes.

The Bhatpara violence is turning out to be the latest political flashpoint in West Bengal, which saw a fierce contest between BJP and TMC in the recently-concluded general election.

The BJP ushered a major surprise, winning 18 Lok Sabha seats out of a total of 42 in Bengal, only four less than TMC's tally of 22.

Buoyed by its stupendous victory, the saffron party has claimed that they would end the TMC rule in the next assembly poll in 2021.

Earlier in the day, a joint delegation of the CPI(M) and the Congress led by Leader of Opposition in assembly Abdul Mannan and Left leader Sujan Chakraborty visited the troubled areas of Baruipara, Jagaddal and Bhatpara. They demanded a CBI inquiry into the killing of two persons.

The BJP leadership has also demanded a CBI probe into the incident. It observed a statewide protest and demonstration against the killings on Friday.

Bhatpara area in the Barrackpore belt is one of the prominent areas with a huge Hindi speaking population.

A TMC citadel for long, Bhatpara has been witnessing frequent post-poll violence between the rival parties. The fight has intensified ever since Arjun Singh crossed over from the TMC to the BJP and won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, under which Bhatpara falls.

In the by-election to the Bhatpara assembly seat that was held along with the Lok Sabha elections, Arjun Singh's son, Pawan Singh, defeated TMC candidate and former state minister Madan Mitra.

(With PTI inputs)