RANCHI: Hundreds of recently-elected panchayat representatives from West Bengal are said to have been forced to take refuge in adjoining districts of Jharkhand due to alleged death threats from Trinamool Congress (TMC) cadres. Tarapado Mahto, who has taken refuge along with his family in Ranchi for the last 15 days, said that they were being forced to join TMC at gunpoint despite having been elected representing the BJP.
“Results were declared on May 14 and we left the place on May 22 after being terrorised by Trinamool goons who started forcing us to change sides to TMC at gunpoint. They told us that they would kill us and kidnap our children if we did not join their party,” said Mahto, elected from Circle number 2 in Chaandra Panchayat of West Midnapore.
“More than 500 elected representatives, both men and women, from Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore have fled to save their lives and taken shelter in adjoining districts like Ranchi, Sahebganj and Jamshedpur,” said Mahto. The TMC was washed out from these four districts in panchayat polls, following which its cadres unleashed a reign of terror against BJP workers and elected representatives, he added.
Reacting strongly to the harassment of BJP workers, Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Poddar said that it was perhaps the only instance outside Kashmir of elected representatives leaving their state for political reasons. State BJP General Secretary Deepak Prakash said more than 800 panchayat representatives had taken refuge in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Dhanbad, and Sahebganj districts of Jharkhand.