West Bengal was in the throes of widespread violence on Monday that allegedly left several political workers dead and injured prompting the Union Home ministry to seek a factual report from the state government, and chief minister-elect Mamata Banerjee to appeal for peace and calm. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called up Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and expressed anguish over the law and order situation in the state.
The clashes come in the backdrop of a sweeping win for the ruling Trinamool Congress after a bitter and acrimonious fight with the Opposition BJP. Both parties blamed the other for the violence that reportedly resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, injuries to several others, and homes and shops of political workers being looted. The TMC won 213 seats against BJP's 77.
Four people were killed in alleged clashes between TMC and BJP supporters in Burdwan district on Sunday and Monday, officials said. The TMC claimed three of them were its supporters. The BJP has claimed at least nine of its workers and supporters, including a woman, were killed in violence allegedly unleashed by the Trinamool Congress following its victory in the assembly elections.
The BJP also shared videos of alleged arson at a party office with bamboo poles and roof tiles burning amid worried cries of people running away from the premises. Photos of dead people and people scampering with apparel looted from a shop also were circulated on social media.
TMC supremo rejected the BJP's charge and urged her supporters to maintain peace, and asked them not to fall prey to provocations. The central forces committed many atrocities on TMC supporters during the elections, she alleged.
"Even after the results were announced, BJP attacked our supporters in certain areas but we ask our men not to get provoked and instead report to the police," Mamata said. She alleged that some police officers had worked in a partisan manner against the TMC during the elections.
The situation remains tense as BJP national president JP Nadda is in the state on a two-day visit, meeting alleged victims of the violence while the party has also announced a nationwide dharna on 5 May (tomorrow), the day Mamata is set to take the oath of office. There are also concerns over the rampant spread of misinformation and fake news using old and unrelated visuals to stoke anger and panic among people. Fact-checking portal Alt News debunked two related claims on Twitter.
Some BJP leaders also introduced a communal angle to the clashes at a time when the state is reeling under political violence. BJP's Swapan Dasgupta, who contested from Tarakeswar in the elections and lost, took to Twitter to claim that an "alarming situation had unfolded in Nanoor."
Meanwhile, The Times of India reported that National Commission for Women has takes suo motu cognisance of these incidents of violence against women in West Bengal and a team lead by chairperson Rekha Sharma will visit the state for further enquiry.
The West Bengal Police has denied similar reports and termed it fake news. TMC MP Derek O'Brien dubbed these clashes a result of friction between BJP factions.
>Intolerance thy name Mamata Banerjee: JP Nadda
Nadda on Tuesday said the widespread post-poll violence in West Bengal is reminiscent of the atrocities people had to face during the country's Partition, and exhorted party workers in the state to democratically fight the "savagery". He also said that Mamata does not represent the Bengali culture.
Nadda, who arrived on a two-day visit to Bengal, said BJP workers across India have expressed solidarity with their activists in the state, who are "facing violent attacks".
"We are committed to democratically fight this ideological battle and the activities of the TMC, which is full of intolerance," he told reporters at the NSC Bose International Airport in Kolkata.
"I had heard of the immense atrocities committed during the Partition, but I have never seen such post-poll violence that is occurring in West Bengal after the declaration of election results (on May 2)," the senior BJP leader said.
Nadda said he will visit the residences of BJP workers "killed" in attacks in South 24 Parganas district and speak to their kin. "We want to give this message that crores of BJP workers across the country are with them," he said.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, who accompanied Nadda, expressed solidarity with victims of the violence.
Claiming that attacks are taking place at places where the TMC won with a huge majority, Ghosh said that the BJP leadership is with the workers who have fought the election risking their lives.
Governor briefs Narendra Modi, says 'horrendous state of affairs'
West Bengal GovernorDhankhar on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him and expressed anguish over the law and order situation in the state following reports of post-poll violence from several districts.
Videos of alleged arson at a BJP office with bamboo poles and roof tiles burning amid worried cries of people running away from the premises were shared by the party.
"Police @WBPolice @CPKolkata must end senseless political violence, vandalism, arson, killings and intimidation that shames democracy. Why post poll violence only WB? Why this assault on democracy?" the governor asked on the microblogging site.
"Reports indicate horrendous state of affairs. Horrified people are fleeing to save themselves," he added.
With inputs from PTI