• Thursday, Jul 18, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:39 am

Post-poll violence toll in West Bengal rises to 15

  • Published at 04:18 pm June 11th, 2019
India-West Bengle-BJP
Indian supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold placards as they observe 'Black day' during a silent protest rally against the recent killings at Sandeshkhali in West Bengal, in Siliguri on June 10, 2019 AFP

A police official said the bodies of two BJP members were found hanging from a tree in Howrah district over the past 48 hours

Three people died in fresh political violence between members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party and a local rival in restive West Bengal state, authorities said Tuesday, reports AFP.

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress - which runs the state - have accused each other of instigating weeks of violence during and since India's recent election.

A police official said the bodies of two BJP members were found hanging from a tree in Howrah district over the past 48 hours, while a Trinamool stalwart was killed by a crude bomb blast late Monday, east of Kolkata.

A bomb killed two people in West Bengal on Monday, taking the death toll in post-election violence to 15, police said, as workers of India's ruling party clashed with a regional rival in the populous eastern state, reports Reuters.

On Saturday four people died and at least 18 were injured in gun battles between BJP and Trinamool supporters in Sandeshkhali district.

West Bengal, which elects the third largest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament, was a key battleground in the general election that Prime Minister Narendra Modi resoundingly won last month, and saw sporadic violence during the 39-day-long poll.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked up 18 of 42 seats in the state, nine times its previous tally, despite a tough fight from the regional Trinamool Congress party, led by the firebrand Mamata Banerjee.

At an event in Kolkata on Tuesday, Banerjee said that two Trinamool supporters were killed after bombs were hurled by unidentified persons on Monday night.

"There is a concerted effort to incite violence in Bengal by the BJP," she said. "They will not succeed."

Since May 23, when election results were announced, at least 15 people have been killed from both parties, a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

On Sunday, India's federal home ministry, which is led by Modi's close aide, Amit Shah, issued an advisory to the West Bengal government, expressing "deep concern" over the violence.

The BJP, which had so far been a bit player in West Bengal's politics, said its workers had been continuously targeted by Banerjee's party.

"Trinamool is losing, they have lost the people's favour and they are trying to retain power through violence," BJP State President Dilip Ghosh told Reuters.

The BJP plans to hold a protest march in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Having consolidated its hold across much of northern and western India, the BJP is trying to make inroads in eastern states like West Bengal.