7-year-old killed in crude bomb blast in Bengal's Burdwan ahead of polls

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(Eds: With latest inputs) Burdwan/Barjora/Kolkata, Mar 22 (PTI) A seven-year-old boy was killed and another child injured in a crude bomb explosion in Burdwan city in West Bengal on Monday, triggering tension in the area ahead of the elections amid a political war of words over the law and order situation in the state.

The Election Commission sought a report from the district administration on the blast, which happened around 11 am in Rasikpur's Subhaspally area of the city, with the opposition BJP and CPI(M) attacking the TMC, drawing sharp criticism from the ruling party for 'doing politics' over the death of a child.

Sheikh Afroz (7) and Sheikh Ibrahim (9) were playing near their house when they hit a packet in which the crude bombs were kept, leading to the blast, Burdwan police station's inspector-in-charge Pintu Saha said.

Locals rushed to the spot after hearing the explosion and found the two boys lying in a pool of blood, he said.

They were taken to the Bardhaman Medical College and Hospital where Afroz died a while later, he said.

Ibrahim is at present undergoing treatment, Saha said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she has directed officials concerned to ensure the best possible care for the injured child.

Addressing an election rally in Bankura's Barjora, Banerjee said that she was informed about the incident on the campaign trail.

'The boys mistook a bomb as a ball and was playing with it, causing the incident,' she said.

'I always respond to any mishap as early as possible.

I have directed the officials to help the affected families.

Till the time I am there, I will continue to rush to help people,' she said.

Afroz's uncle Sheikh Feroz told PTI that the children of the locality play at that spot every morning but only two of them were out today.

An investigation was initiated and the area cordoned off, police said.

The bomb squad examined the spot and the investigators spoke to the locals about the incident to ascertain the sequence of events, they said.

The explosion triggered tension in the area ahead of the elections.

Following the incident, the Election Commission sought a report from the district magistrate of Purba Bardhaman, an official said.

'A quick report has been sought from the district magistrate. Prior to the elections, this is a very serious matter,' he said.

Rasikpur is in the Bardhaman Dakshin constituency where polling will be held in the fifth phase on April 17.

Condemning the incident, chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for the Protection of Child Rights Ananya Chatterjee said a letter has been sent to the district magistrate and superintendent of police, seeking a report about the incident.

The opposition BJP and CPI(M) attacked the Trinamool Congress over the explosion, alleging that there was a breakdown of the law and order situation in the state.

'TMC party offices in several areas have become factories for making crude bombs. If truth needs to be told, TMC's 'Khela Hobe' slogan is a veiled threat to intimidate people,' Union Minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo said.

The BJP also held a rally in the area, protesting against the incident.

CPI(M)'s legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said the 'power-hungry' TMC was treating people like commodities and this incident was proof of that.

'It is a very condemnable and shameful incident. Is Bengal all about this kind of violence? The cries of 'Khela Hobe' (game will happen) show what the ruling side actually means,' he said.

The Trinamool Congress condemned the incident and slammed the opposition for doing politics over it.

'This is a very sad incident. A child has died what can be more sad than this. There should be no politics over the incident. The BJP is irresponsible to do politics about it,' senior TMC MP Sougata Roy said.

'Right now, law and order is the responsibility of the Election Commission and I hope that they will take proper action after a thorough investigation. Such incidents are not always political,' he added. PTI CORR SBN SCH SUS SOM SOM