At least five people were killed and five injured in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district after BJP and Trinamool Congress workers clashed over removing party flags. The dead include three BJP workers and one TMC activist.
Although police declined to comment on the deaths, they said a huge contingent has been rushed to the spot to control the situation.
Workers of both parties threw stones and hurled petrol bombs at each other in the ensuing clashes. Gunshots were also reportedly fired.
The deceased TMC supporter was identified as 26-year-old Qayyum Mollah who was allegedly shot and hacked to death, claimed the party's North 24 Parganas district president and senior state minister Jyotipriyo Mullick.
"When Qayyum was on his way to attend a party meeting, he was hacked at first. When he managed to free himself, he was shot dead. The BJP is trying to vitiate the atmosphere and disturb peace in the district," Mullick said.
State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said four of his party workers — Sukanta Mondal, Pradip Mondal, Tapan Mandal and Debdas Mondal — were shot dead when they stopped TMC supporters from "throwing away" their party flags.
"We have received the bodies of three of our workers. We have heard that two more have also died but are yet to receive the bodies. They tried to throw away our party flags and posters and when we protested, our workers were shot at point-blank range," Basu said.
BJP’s Mukul Roy blamed the TMC for the murders of his party workers, accusing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of "unleashing violence" against the BJP workers. He said the party would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and apprise him of the situation in North 24 Parganas district's Sandeshkhali area where the violence occurred.
BJP MP Babul Supriyo said the political violence and murders had "deeply disturbed" him.
Earlier on Saturday, several BJP workers and police personnel were injured after clashes broke out between the two sides over a victory rally being taken out by the saffron party in Gangarampur area of North Dinajpur district. BJP workers "forcibly took out" the procession 'Abhinandan Yatra' without taking any permission from the authorities concerned, a police officer said.
Banerjee on Thursday had prohibited victory rallies by any party in the state, noting they lead to a rise in tensions and violence.