A day after a BJP worker died in hospital after sustaining a chest injury during a party protest in north Bengal’s Siliguri, police have claimed the post-mortem report indicated Ulen Rai died of “shotgun injuries” and that the firing was done from a close range.
The West Bengal Police on Tuesday tweeted: “As per PM [postmortem] report ‘death was due to effects of shotgun injuries.’ Police do not use shotguns. It is obvious that during yesterday’s protest in Siliguri, armed persons were brought and they fired from firearms. The deceased received pallet injuries from a shotgun fired from close range by a person standing near the deceased in the protest program. This is unprecedented. Bringing armed persons in protest programs and inciting them to fire is unheard off.”
However, within hours the Chief Judicial Magistrate court, Jalpaiguri, ordered a fresh post-mortem in the presence of three doctors and under videography. It also sought a compliance report by December 11.
The order came on an appeal by the family of the deceased.
Rai sustained the injuries during clashes between party workers and police personnel during the BJP’s Uttarkanya Abhiyan, a protest march to the state’s branch secretariat.
Though the saffron party reiterated its stance that the 50-year-old died of police firing, chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the party for the death.
At a public meeting in Raniganj, Mamata said: “The police never use it (shotgun). You (BJP) are killing a man with pellets just for publicity and propaganda. I appeal to the media to crosscheck when they (BJP) lie.”
The cops also added the department does not use shotguns.
State BJP president and Lok Sabha MP Dilip Ghosh asserted: “Firing was done from the police’s side. If the police did not fire, who did? Proper investigation will reveal the truth.”
During a 12-hour bandh called by the BJP on Tuesday in protest against the death, sporadic incidents of violence were reported from parts of north Bengal. BJP workers were detained in Malda while trying to block National Highway 34.
Meanwhile, governor Jagdeep Dhankar has asked the chief secretary and the DGP to meet him by December 12. He tweeted: “Constrained in public interest to call upon CS @MamataOfficial &DGP @WBPolice to see me not later than Dec 12. Their continued non responsive stance and failure to update me on affairs of the state tantamounts to shredding all canons of governance in accordance to constitution.”
Things have been heating up in Bengal in the run up to next year’s Assembly polls. The BJP has fixed its eyes on the elusive eastern state after emerging as the dominant partner in the NDA government in Bihar.