Birbhum violence: 2 children among 8 charred to death; here's all you need to know

Governor describes incident as “horrifying violence and arson orgy;” Centre seeks report within 72 hours

Aritra SinghaUpdated: Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 11:23 PM IST
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Birbhum: Police personnel near the houses that were set on fire by some miscreants allegedly for avenging the killing of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh, at Rampurhat in Birbhum district, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. At least 8 persons were burnt to death in the incident, according to officials. | (PTI Photo)

Kolkata: The discovery of eight charred bodies, including two children, in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, after their houses were allegedly set on fire, has been described by the Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar as “horrifying violence and arson orgy”.

Taking a cue from the sharp reaction of the Governor, the Union Home Ministry has sought a report from the Trinamool dispensation on the incident of arson within 72 hours. Besides, Joint Secretary-level officers of the Home Ministry will visit Bengal soon to take stock of the situation.

The incident triggered a slugfest between the State government and the Governor with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee writing to the former urging him to refrain from making “sweeping” statements. Calling the governor's statement “sweeping and uncalled for”, Mamata, in the letter, indicated that the incident may be a part of a greater conspiracy.

In a flurry of activity, a delegation led by Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar met Union Home Amit Shah and called for the immediate resignation of Mamata Banerjee, who also handles the home department in the state. Majumdar has also moved the Calcutta High Court and demanded a CBI probe.

According to local residents, at least eight houses were set on fire – possibly in retribution -- after Trinamool’s Deputy Panchayat Chief Bhadu Sheikh was killed on Monday in the wee hours in a crude bomb attack.

According to the Director General of Police, 11 people have been arrested in the case of arson. “Seven charred bodies were recovered on Tuesday morning and three injured people were found later, of which one succumbed to his injuries.’’

The state government has, meanwhile, set up a special investigation team (SIT) headed by ADG (CID) Gyanwant Singh to investigate the matter. A forensic team will shortly visit the area and a report has been sought from the local DM and SP.

Urban Development and Transport Minister Firhad Hakim, along with TMC MLA Ashish Banerjee, had also reached the spot to take stock of the situation. Hakim also met the injured at the hospital and assured them of all help.

Meanwhile, the family members of Bhadu Seikh have left their village for an undisclosed destination, citing ‘insecurity’. Seikh’s father said that within nine months two of his sons had been murdered.

TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said a ‘larger conspiracy’ has been hatched against Trinamool Congress.

Mamata slammed Governor Dhankhar and said that he remains ‘silent’ when ‘much more heinous’ incidents occur in BJP-ruled states. Dhankhar, in turn, slammed the state government and claimed that the Trinamool Congress government had ‘failed’ to maintain law and order. “The state government should rise above party politics. I have sought reports from the Chief Secretary,” said Dhankhar.

Slamming the BJP-led central government, TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said that the Ministry of Home Affairs did not bother to send a team to investigate any untoward incidents that took place in BJP- ruled states.

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