Armed mobs rampaged through a town in West Bengal state yesterday, hurling homemade bombs and firing weapons in new political clashes that left at least three people dead and many injured, police said.
Police ordered a curfew in Barrackpore, near the state capital Kolkata, amid accusations by one political leader that the three were killed by police firing.
Nearly 20 people have been killed in West Bengal since April in fighting between members of the Bharatiya Janata Party party and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.
The clashes erupted as India went to the polls in its mammoth election in April and May, ahead of which the BJP had campaigned aggressively in the eastern state.
Police said four people were injured in violence in Barrackpore, prompting police to fire tear gas and use live fire to disperse attackers. A police official said masked youths threw homemade bombs and waved guns as they ran through the streets.
Police did not give the cause of the deaths but a local BJP MP, Arjun Singh, blamed the Trinamool Congress and said the victims died in police firing.
“Since I am in Delhi, the police have allowed some Trinamool activists to do all this. They are a mute witness to looting and violence over the last three days. They are giving free hand to them (Trinamool activists) and the total game-plan has been hatched by the police,” Singh said.
On the other hand, Trinamool leader Madan Mitra said the area has been witnessing violence for over a month.
“It is sad that Arjun Singh has cited police firing for the deaths. Police officers have said that they fired in the air,” Mitra said.
West Bengal home secretary Alapan Banerjee accused “anti-social” elements of creating the disturbances.
Rapid Action Force personnel patrol a street after fresh violence rocked Barrackpore in West Bengal yesterday.