A three-year-old boy is the latest victim of political violence in West Bengal. The boy is in a critical condition at a government hospital after he was shot in the head on Thursday, in what appears to be a fight between the Trinamool and BJP workers, over control of a local panchayat board in Malda. In this week alone as many as 10 people have died in political violence said the police.
The boy's mother, Putul Mondal, had contested and won the panchayat polls on a BJP ticket. But on Tuesday, when time came to vote for the formation of the panchayat board, she reportedly switched sides and voted for the Trinamool.
According to police reports a group of armed men barged into her house on Thursday afternoon and began quarreling with her. The quarrel turned violent and the men opened fire. Her son, who was in the room, was shot in the head.
The Trinamool claimed that the attackers were BJP supporters, who came to threaten Putul Mondal for changing sides. "They were angry with her for joining Trinamool," said Dulal Sarkar, the Malda district Trinamool leader.
The BJP has denied any party connections. "It's a case of infighting within the Trinamool. She changed loyalties for money. When the money did not materialise, they fought and shot the boy," said BJP leader Abhijit Mishra. The party claimed the Trinamool had "bribed" Putul Mondal to switch sides during the panchayat board formation.
"BJP-backed toughs shot the child and are now laying the blame at Trinamool's door. Our chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) has spoken against the culture of violence all along," countered West Bengal panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee.
Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said, "If any BJP worker is involved in the incident, we will hand him over to the police but the state government has to stop the violence."
Of the 18 seats in the local panchayat board, the BJP has won ten and Trinamool six. A Congress and an Independent winner recently joined the Trinamool. So it was ten versus eight. But once Putul Mondal switched loyalties, the score became nine each, causing a stalemate. Eventually, the BJP won the lottery held to determine the post of pradhan and deputy pradhan.