Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday that the culprits in the Birbhum killings in West Bengal should not be forgiven. Speaking virtually at the Victoria Memorial, he said the Central government is willing to help the state in any way required in bringing perpetrators to justice.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted Wednesday that strict action would be taken against the perpetrators of the violence where eight people were charred to death in a village the day before.
Banerjee said she would on Thursday visit Bogtui village, where houses were set on fire shortly after a village panchayat deputy chief was murdered, to take stock of the situation.
Describing the incident as "unfortunate", she said, "It was an attempt by the BJP, Left and the Congress to malign our government… Strict action will be taken against all those responsible for the Birbhum incident, irrespective of their (political) colour.
"We have already removed the (police) Officer-in-Charge, the SDPO and other senior officers. The DGP is in the district since yesterday," she underlined.
The CM, speaking at a programme here, also maintained that she had to postpone her visit to the district by a day as she did not want to get into a confrontation with leaders of opposition political parties camping there.
Taking a dig at BJP, she said its leaders have "limped (lyanchate) their way to the district, stopping to savour 'lyangcha' (sweetmeat originating in Burdwan district's Shaktigarh area) in between".
"I will go there (Bogtui village) tomorrow. I would have gone there today, but a few political parties are on their way to the place. It would get late by the time they return. I don’t want to visit the place when they (opposition leaders) are around. I don’t want to get into any quarrel.
"Let them relish ‘lyangcha’ and then get on with their journey to Rampurhat," Banerjee quipped.
Referring to past incidents of violence in other states, she said that her party MPs were stopped at the airport in Assam, where they had gone to protest NRC implementation, and entry wasn't allowed in UP’s Hathras and Unnao (where gang-rape cases occurred), too, but her government would never do the same.
"This is Bengal, not UP. We allowed everyone to visit Birbhum.
"Not justifying the Birbhum killings, but such incidents are more frequent in UP, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan," she said.
Banerjee, during the programme, also claimed that such incidents are results of conspiracy hatched to divert attention from issues of concern, such as price hike of petrol and other commodities.
"You (People) must have noticed that price of gas, petrol and other commodities have been hiked. They are hatching conspiracies to carry out such incidents to divert people's attention. The BJP has asked media to keep on shouting on this (Birbhum killings)," she contended.
In a veiled attack on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Banerjee said, "There is one 'Laat saheb' (lordly person) sitting here and describing Bengal as the worst state… hurling abuses at the state government."
Banerjee and Dhankhar had been engaged in a heated exchange over the Birbhum incident since Tuesday.
BJP delegation stopped from visiting site of Birbhum violence
Leader of opposition and BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari, however, stated that he and other members of his party were stopped from visiting the site of the incident.
"We were stopped from visiting the spot, but the chief minister had said she would be going there. She will be visiting the area to remove pieces of evidence and protect the culprits. We are against it. If we are not allowed, then no one else should also be permitted to visit it," he said.
"The chief minister is also the home minister of the state. She has failed in discharging her duties as the home minister. She should immediately resign," Adhikari told reporters on his way to Birbhum.
BJP MP and the party's state vice-president Arjun Singh stated that the CM must take moral responsibility for the incident and step down.
Calcutta HC asks Delhi CFSL to collect samples, orders govt to file report
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed CFSL Delhi to immediately collect necessary materials for forensic examination at Bogtui village in Bengal’s Birbhum district, where at least eight people were charred to death in the suspected fallout of a TMC panchayat official’s murder.
The court asked the state government to file a report in the case before it by 2 pm on Thursday, when the matter will be taken up for hearing again.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava, taking up a suo motu petition and a set of PILs, ordered that CCTVs be installed at the crime scene in the presence of district judge, Purba Bardhaman, and recordings be done until further orders