After the horrific murder of a family of three, including a child, the death of a priest in West Bengal's Nadia district has become a new flashpoint in the ruling BJP's attack on the state's Mamata Banerjee government. Allegations of political violence have been flying in the charged build-up to the Bengal assembly polls in 2021 ever since the BJP snatched 16 seats from the Trinamool in parliamentary polls earlier this year.
Supriyo Banerjee, a 42-year-old priest, had been missing since he left home on Monday night. His body was found yesterday from the banks of a local river.
The family suspects theft was the motive for the murder. Mr Banerjee was carrying a large sum of money when he disappeared, his family is reported to have told police.
But soon after his body was found, local BJP MP Jagannath Sarkar said he was a party worker and was killed because of his political links.
Later in the evening, the BJP's Babul Supriyo tweeted about the priest's murder, claiming he was a BJP worker. "Supriyo Banerjee, a Hindu priest and BJP worker from Nadia was brutally murdered. Eight people have now been killed in just the last 4days. Law & Order in WB is a sad joke now. Why are the so-called liberals mute spectators to these gruesome murders? People of Bengal will take revenge• Wait&Watch," tweeted the union minister.
Babul Supriyo also tweeted about the triple murder in Murshidabad, in which a teacher, his pregnant wife and six-year-old boy were hacked to death on Tuesday.
He posted in response to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's tweet questioning what he alleged was a lack of response from "liberals". Mr Patra referred to a group of celebrities who recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over mob killings and said: "This has shaken my conscience ...a RSS worker Bandhu Prakash Pal, his eight months pregnant wife and his kid were brutally slaughtered in West Bengal's Murshidabad Not a word by the liberals Not a letter by 59 liberals to Mamata Nauseating Selectivism!"
Soon, several more BJP leaders circulated the video as well as the criticism.
The BJP's Bengal unit tweeted a disturbing photo of the dead man and claimed eight people had been murdered in Bengal in the last four days.
An earlier tweet recorded the death of two other people, who, the BJP claimed, were also the party's supporters. "Animesh Chakraborty and Ahmed Sheikh, two BJP workers from Birbhum and Nadia respectively, were brutally murdered on Astami night. We have again lost two of our workers to the bloody, inhumane jungle politics. Blood continues to flow in Bengal even during Durga Puja. Martyr no 79 & 80," tweeted BJP Bengal.
This post was retweeted by several other BJP leaders.
Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar has also stepped into the row. He said last evening that there must be no cover-up in the investigation into the case and it "cannot be brushed under the carpet". He also expressed dismay over the "silence" of the Mamata Banerjee government.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress retorted that the Governor is "crossing constitutional Laxman Rekhas" and suggested he keep an eye on crimes in Tripura, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh instead.