Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had directed senior police officers to take stringent action against those involved in the incident "irrespective of their political colour", state government sources said.
Defying prohibitory orders, locals and BJP leaders walked in a rally on Friday with the bodies of two persons killed in firing during a clash of two groups of miscreants at Bhatpara area of North 24 Parganas district. The situation remained tense with prohibitory orders in force and huge police deployment in the area while 16 people were arrested in connection with the clashes, an official said. Two people were killed and 11 injured on Thursday after clashes broke out between two groups suspected to be affiliated to the TMC and the BJP.
Accompanying the bodies while they were being taken to their residences, the rallyists also held a demonstration against the huge police deployment in the area. A police officer said, during the rally, the locals along with the BJP workers got involved into a tussle with policemen and pelted stones at them, following which the force restored to lathicharge. Expressing concern, Governor K N Tripathi told PTI, “Not only in Bhatpara but in the entire state, there is a need to keep peace. I have time and again said that violence should be stopped. Let society be peaceful.”
Shops and markets remained shut in Bhatpara and Jagaddal areas, where Internet services have been temporarily restricted. The authorities had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in and around the area following the violence on Thursday. Though there was no report of any untoward in the area on Thursday night, many people claimed to have heard “sounds of bombing” near Kankinara market this morning. The police, however, were yet to confirm it. The BJP accused the state administration of acting as “TMC cadre” and its national secretary Rahul Sinha demanded a CBI inquiry into the Bhatpara firing incident.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had directed senior police officers to take stringent action against those involved in the incident “irrespective of their political colour”, state government sources said. The state government removed Barrackpore Police Commissioner Tanmay Ray Chaudhuri and appointed Manoj Kumar Verma, who was the IGP of Darjeeling.
The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP blamed each other for the clash, which is seen as an attempt to establish dominance in Bhatpara, which comes under the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. Of the 11 injured, six were police personnel who suffered injuries while trying to contain the violence, Director General of Police Virendra had said, after visiting the spot on Thursday. On whether the deaths were because of police firing, as alleged by the locals, the DG had said, “The cause of the deaths is under investigation. Police fired in the air.”
“Some anti-socials and criminals have been active in Bhatpara. Outside elements have now joined them, disrupting peace in the area. RAF personnel have been deployed. “The state government requests all concerned to avoid and resist from making inflammatory statements… in the context of the situation in Jagatdal and Bhatpara areas. We request all to cooperate and not get provoked by propaganda from any side,” Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had said.
A TMC citadel for long, Bhatpara has been witnessing frequent violence between the rival parties recently. The fight has intensified ever since Lok Sabha member from Barrackpore, Arjun Singh, crossed over to the BJP from the TMC. In the by-elections to the Bhatpara assembly seat that were held along with the Lok Sabha elections, his son Pawan Singh had defeated TMC candidate and former state minister Madan Mitra.