KOLKATA: Hours after chief minister Mamata Banerjee kicked off her panchayat poll campaign in Cooch Behar in North Bengal after 15 years, a Trinamool Congress worker was shot dead in Dinhata in the same district early on Tuesday, taking the death toll in poll-related-violence to 11.
The deceased has been identified as Babu Haque, who was in his mid-40s. Four other workers of the ruling party received bullet injuries in the attack. The incident took place at Gitaldaha, located along the India-Bangladesh border area in north Bengal where the BJP made deep inroads in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by bagging seven out of eight seats.
While the TMC held the BJP responsible for backing the attackers, the saffron party refuted the allegation.
“Our party workers were sleeping inside a house after completing the day-long campaign when the attackers, backed by the BJP, raided the place and opened fire, targeting six of our men.
Babu and other injured were taken to the nearby healthcare centre where he was declared dead on arrival. The injured workers were admitted to Cooch Behar Medical College and Hospital in critical condition,” said Anarul Haque, a local TMC leader.
Police, however, said the needle of suspicion is pointing towards a dispute over the issue of smuggling through the international border. “Gitaldaha is located along a porous border. Many residents of the area are involved in bootlegging.
The incident seems to be a fallout of a dispute between two groups involved in smuggling,” said a police officer. TMC MLA Udayan Guha accused the BJP of masterminding the incident by bringing criminals from “outside.”
Mamata injured as chopper makes emergency landing
Mamata Banerjee was injured when her helicopter made an emergency landing due to bad weather on Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Banerjee suffered ligament injuries in the left knee and left hip joint, said a doctor at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata. She later returned to Kolkata by a flight from Bagdogra Airport.