Birbhum violence: Mamata Banerjee in damage control mode
Kolkata, March 25, 2022
In a damage control mode, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday not only ordered the arrest of Trinamool Congress (TMC) block president Anirul Hossain for his involvement in the Birbhum violence incident but also slammed the local police for not acting in time.
Three hours after Banerjee ordered the arrest of Hossain while on a visit to the site of the violence at the Bagtui village in Birbhum district, the latter was taken into custody.
In her statement at the site, the Chief Minister said, "The kin of the victims said they telephoned Anirul and asked him to send police to Bagtui but he didn't."
"I want him (Hossain) arrested. He can surrender but, otherwise, I want him to be arrested immediately," Banerjee told the state Director General of Police Manoj Malviya at Bagtui.
Hossain is the first TMC leader to be put behind bars for the gruesome violence that was allegedly triggered by the killing of local party member and reputed strongman, Bhadu Sheikh on Monday evening.
A resident of Sandhipur in Bengal's Hooghly district, the TMC block president is said to have worked as a mason before he started his political career with the Congress.
In the Trinamool Congress, he is said to have been recognised for organising grassroots support for the party. He has been handling the block president's post since 2018.
The Chief Minister also slammed the local police for not acting in time and said the problem could have been averted if the police responded to the calls.
"This incident could have been avoided if the police had gone immediately. They did not fulfill their responsibility. Action must be taken against those who knowingly did not perform their duty," Banerjee said.
However, the TMC supremo refused to rule out the involvement of outsiders in the Birbhum violence.
"Police officials are investigating all sides. They are probing who all are involved. Was it done locally or whether outsiders were involved in it? Police have to check all angles," she said.
"The Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) knew what was happening, the Inspector In-Charge (IC) knew what was happening but didn't take any action," Banerjee added.
"There is a larger conspiracy here. I want police picketing here continuously."
Both the SDPO and IC have been suspended.
However, there are indications that the state administration is likely to take stricter action to instill confidence among the people.