Clashes in West Bengal’s Bhatpara; 16 held, situation tense

Kolkata: A day after clashes erupted between two groups in Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, the situation remained tense with prohibitory orders in force and huge police deployment in the area, officials said Friday.

As many as 16 people were arrested in connection with the clashes, a police officer said. Two people were killed and 11 others injured on Thursday after clashes broke out between two groups suspected to be affiliated to the TMC and the BJP.

Expressing concern, Governor K N Tripathi said, "Not only in Bhatpara but in the entire state, there is a need to keep peace."

Shops and markets remained shut in Bhatpara and Jagaddal areas, where internet services have been temporarily restricted.

The authorities had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in and around the area following the violence on Thursday. The police, however, were yet to confirm it.

The BJP accused the state administration of acting as "TMC cadres" 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.

Asked 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 provocated by exciting 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 in the recent past. 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.

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