KOLKATA: A BJP leader in Barrackpore was shot dead on Sunday night when he was sitting in a road-side tea stall, a stone’s throw from the local Titagarh police station, and around 20 km from Kolkata.
The police said four assassins riding two motorcycles came and one of the two pillion riders fired at Manish Shukla, the deceased. Shukla, who is known as Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh’s close aide, was hit by five bullets on his head and chest.
Demanding a CBI probe into the killing, the BJP held the ruling TMC responsible for Shukla’s murder when the TMC said the incident was a fallout of the saffron camp’s internal feud. Shukla was a member of BJP’s Barrackpore organisational district committee.
The incident triggered fierce protests on Monday by BJP supporters in Barrackpore as roadblocks were put up and bricks were hurled at the policemen and the law-keepers lobbed teas gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the violent assembly.
Preliminary investigation by the police pointed out Shukla’s personal enmity which might have led to the incident. "Police is investigating the crime and looking into all possible reasons including personal enmity because the victim was accused in some cases of murder and attempt of murder. Please do not jump on the conclusion without proper investigation. Irresponsible comments on social media tantamount to interference in the investigation. Please refrain from this," West Bengal police wrote on its Twitter handle.
Reacting to the incident, governor Jagdeep Dhankhar summoned the director-general of police who did not turn up. Expressing his discontent, Dhankhar said he would like to interact with CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday night. The chief secretary Alapan Banerjee met the governor with a report submitted by the commissioner of police, Barrackpore.
BJP leaders, including the party’s observer for West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya, visited and Shukla’s house on Monday. They also turned up in front of the mortuary of NRS Hospital where Shukla’s post mortem was conducted. Accusing the police and alleging they were working at the behest of the ruling party, Vijayvargiya said the state government was deliberately delaying the process of handing over the body to Shukla’s family members. He also met the governor to raise the issue.
BJP’s national vice president Mukul Roy said the incident exposed the inhuman face of the ruling party. "The gruesome murder of Shri Manish Shukla, Councillor from Titagarh, once again exposes the inhuman face of TMC's anarchy in WB. I visited his home today and expressed my condolence to his family. It is really painful to see BJP leaders and workers being killed in WB," he tweeted.
TMC minister Firhad Hakim said the truth would come out after the completion of the investigation. "He (Shukla) was forced to join the BJP by Singh. He was not happy with the BJP," he said.
Since last year’s general election, Barrackpore witnessed a series of violence with sporadic clashes between TMC supporters and followers of Singh, who defected to the BJP from the ruling party before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and snatched the Barrackpore seat from TMC’s veteran contestant Dinesh Trivedi. At least 12 persons were killed over a period of two months after the election last year.
Shukla was a CPI(M) activist and he changed his political allegiance in 2009 after Singh was elected from Barrackpore constituency on TMC’s ticket. He became a local TMC leader and again changed his political alignment by joining the BJP with Singh.