Bogtui carnage: Political temperatures rise in Bengal, Mamata to visit site on Thursday

Kolkata, March 23 : West Bengal’s political temperatures soared on Wednesday a day after eight persons, including women and children, were burnt alive in Birbhum district’s Bogtui village, as various parties rushed to the trouble spot, with under-fire Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing she would visit the site on Thursday. State Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, whose relations with the Banerjee government is by no means cozy, shot off a strong note to the Chief Minister asking her to act fast to restore values of democracy and human rights, while the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sought an action taken report (ATR) within three days from the district police superintendent. On the judicial front, the Calcutta High Court took suo moto cognisance of the matter and asked the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case to present the case diary on Thursday. The police said 22 people have been arrested in connection with the incident. Two FIRs have been filed — one over the killing of a Trinamool Congress panchayat functionary that is said to have sparked the carnage, and the other in connection with the torching of houses and people. Around 22 people have been arrested. Speaking publicly for the first time on the incident at Rampurhat block, around 200 kilometers from Kolkata, Banerjee described the incident as “unfortunate” and declared that none of the culprits would be spared. With the opposition parties and the Governor mounting pressure on her by accusing the administration of suppressing facts and playing down the casualty figure, the Chief Minister said the government has already removed the Officer-in-charge of the local police station and the Sub-divisional police officer, and steps were also being taken again the Intelligence branch officials posted in the area. “I have myself spoken with my officers in Ramourhat more than 50 times since the incident. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed. The Director-General of Police (Manoj Malaviya) is camping in the area. I will myself got to the village on Thursday,” Banerjee said at a state government “I wanted to visit today (Wednesday) but a lot of them have gone to show their faces, I will not go so long they are there,” Banerjee added, while alleging a conspiracy to malign the Government. Dhankhar during the day sent a three-page letter to Banerjee, who had on Tuesday accused the Governor of making “unwarranted statements” with “political overtones” on Tuesday’s arson and killings. Countering Banerjee, the Governor said, “As usual you have taken accusatory stance ( in your March 22 comm cation) at my restrained just reaction to grisly carnage, worst in recent memory at Rampurhat, where reportedly entire family of Sanju Sheikh – six women and two children – were burnt alive in Bogtui village”. “Casualty figure is stated to be higher as reported. This shocking carnage is being justifiably compared to many of the incidents in the state a few years ago, while you were in the opposition”. “Adopting diversionary tactics you have labelled my reaction as “sweeping and uncalled for the statement”, In the face of such enormity I cannot “fiddle” in Raj Bhavan and be a mute spectator. That would be an unpardonable abdication of my constitutional duty,” said the Governor. On Tuesday, Dhankhar had described the incident as horrifying and said Bengal was “in the grip of violence culture and lawlessness”, prompting the rejoinder from the Chief Minister. A Calcutta High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj allowed the SIT headed by the Additional Director General of Police Gyanwant Singh to proceed with the investigation and present the case diary before it at 2 PM on Thursday. The two judges also directed CCTV cameras be installed at the scene of the crime and protection of witnesses be ensured. Meanwhile, senior leaders of opposition parties went to Bogtui and spoke to the locals. Eluding the police, State CPI-M Secretary Mohammad Salim sneaked into Bogtui in the morning riding pillion on a bike. He spoke to the villagers, and demanded exemplary p shment to the culprits while calling the incident “nothing but a genocide”. A BJP delegation led by the leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari also visited the area, displaying posters seeking justice into the Rampurhat carnage. “it is a fit case for a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe. The incident, the biggest genocide in Bengal, has brought shame to the state,” said Adhikari. Taking a swipe at the Chief Minister, he said “She is coming here tomorrow to destroy all evidence”. The on Home Ministry has sought a report from the state government within 72 hours on the deaths of women and children, sources said. The mob fury in Bogtui village followed the murder of the Trinamool Congress-run Barshal village Panchayat’s deputy chief Bhadu Sheikh, on Monday evening. Four miscreants hurled crude bombs at Sheikh, leaving him fatally injured, when he was at a roadside tea stall near his house. As news of Sheikh’s death spread in the area, villagers of Bogtui went on a rampage, torching a number of houses, leading to the deaths However, after the news came to light, officials initially put the number of casualties at ten. Later, DGP Manoj Malaviya said eight persons had died. SSP PC SSP

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