The killing of former BJP councillor Manish Shukla in Titagarh area of North 24-Parganas district is the latest in the series of political killings in West Bengal. According to the latest report on crime in India by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), the Trinamool-ruled state has reported the maximum number of political murders in the country.
The 2018 data for West Bengal, the NCRB says, has been repeated in its latest 2019 report because of “non-receipt of data from West Bengal in time for 2019”. The report released on September 30 stated, “data furnished for the year 2018 has been used to arrive at national and city-wise figures.”
The total number of murders due to “political reason” in the country stood at 61 last year. West Bengal recorded the highest number of killings at 12 cases, a repetition of its 2018 data. However, this number is likely to increase after the state submits the revised numbers.
The latest report shows Jharkhand and Bihar follow Bengal with six cases each. Andhra Pradesh reported five such crimes ranking third highest in the country. In 2018, of the 54 political murders committed in India, West Bengal was followed by Bihar with nine killings and seven in Maharashtra.
As per news reports, 13 political killings have been reported in West Bengal till now. The majority of victims of these killings, the BJP claims, have been its cadres.
A BJP MLA and three of its party workers have allegedly died by suicide this year. In all these four cases, including the death of BJP MLA Debendranath Roy, the BJP has accused TMC of targeting its leader and workers. The ruling TMC has attributed these murders to local-level violence and turf war.
Last year, the issue of these killings resulted in a major political showdown between the BJP and the TMC during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The saffron party had specially invited 54 family members of BJP workers who were allegedly murdered by TMC cadres in the past six years.
TMC president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled her decision to attend the ceremony citing ‘Untrue claims." She said, “The oath-taking ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party.”
While West Bengal tops the year’s maximum number of political killings, compiled data from 2015 to 2019 shows Jharkhand registered the highest number of political murders at 66. A total of 42 such murders were reported in 2017 alone followed by Uttar Pradesh with 63 cases and Bihar with 53 murders.