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West Bengal: 10 burnt alive by mob after murder of panchayat leader in Birbhum

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Kolkata: At least 10 people were burnt alive after a mob set their houses on fire in West Bengal’s Birbhum district. An investigation has been initiated by police into the matter. According to fire department officials, the incident took place after the alleged killing of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader who served as the panchayat leader in Birbhum.

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An irate mob barged into the Bogtui village situated on the outskirts of the Rampurhat town and set 10 to 12 houses on fire late last night. A total of 10 dead bodies have been recovered so far, out of which seven charred bodies were recovered from a single house, confirmed fire department officials.

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The body of Bhadu Sheikh, the TMC panchayat deputy chief of Barshal village, was found in the area on Monday, police said. Further investigation is underway in the matter.

Talking about the incident, West Bengal DGP Manoj Malviya said, “An hour after the news of the murder of TMC leader Bahadur Sheikh last night, 7-8 nearby houses were set on fire. 11 people arrested in this regard. The concerned SDPO and Rampurhat Incharge have been removed from their post.” “This morning, 7 bodies were recovered from one house. Initially, 10 deaths were reported but the numbers were not correct, a total of 8 people have died. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted,” he added.

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Soon after the incident, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar extended his condolences to the families of victims and tweeted: “Horrifying violence and arson orgy #Rampurhat #Birbhum indicates state is in grip of violence culture and lawlessness. Already eight lives lost. Have sought urgent update on the incident from Chief Secretary. My thoughts are with the families of the bereaved.”

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A Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising Additional Director General (ADG) CID Gyanwant Singh, ADG Western Zone Sanjay Singh and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CID (Ops) Meeraj Khalid has been constituted to investigate the case.

“Law and order in a rapid freefall in West Bengal. Tension and terror have gripped the Rampurhat area of Birbhum district, after a panchayat upoprodhan (deputy chief), Bhadu Sheik was reportedly killed last evening in a bomb attack,” Suvendu Adhikari, Bengal’s Leader of Opposition and BJP MLA from Nandigram, has tweeted.

“The nightlong barbarity has lead to the death of at least 12 people till now; mostly women. Charred bodies are being recovered as of now. Administrative cover-up has already begun with attempts being made to lower the body count. IMMEDIATE CENTRAL INTERVENTION REQUIRED,” Mr Adhikari, a former Trinamool leader, added.

While the incident was alleged to be the fallout of rivalry between two factions of the ruling party, TMC General Secretary Kunal Ghosh tweeted saying that the incident has nothing to do with politics.

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“Deaths of the locals in fire incident is sad. But this incident has no political connection. This is a local village dispute. The panchayat deputy chief who was murdered was a well-known person and his death has angered the villagers, leading to the violent protest. The fire incident took place at night but cops and fire brigade took immediate action,” Kunal Ghosh said in a tweet in Bengali.

A Birbhum district police officer said Bhadu Sheikh’s brother, Babar Sheikh, was shot dead a year ago in the same village.

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