The wife of one of the men killed in clashes between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Bengal on Saturday evening has blamed "Trinamool criminals" for his death and told NDTV how they shot him in the eye and that she "watched my husband die." At least two BJP workers were killed and a Trinamool worker shot and hacked to death in violence in the North 24 Paraganas district on Saturday evening.
"The army of Qayum Mollah and Shahjahan Mollah, it was about 400 to 500 people. I have never seen anything like this... they were running to my house," Padma Mondal, wife of Pradip Mondal, said on Sunday.
"I was scared and I ran towards the house. My husband had just parked his bike. He saw me running and he also started running. I heard a gun being fired near my house," she added, fighting back tears.
Incidents of violence between BJP and Trinamool workers have not stopped after a bitterly fought election in which the saffron party ended up winning 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats - only four behind the Trinamool's 22. Mamata Banerjee's party claimed 34 in the 2014 polls.
The Home Ministry on Sunday wrote to the state government expressing its worry over "unabated violence over the past weeks (that) appears to be a failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery of the state to maintain the rule of law". It also "strongly advised" the state government to take all necessary measures to maintain law and order, and sought a detailed report.
The clash on Saturday was the fourth such in the past 10 days. Violence in Burdwan and Cooch Behar had killed one BJP worker and one Trinamool worker, respectively, while in Kolkata, another Trinamool worker was shot dead.
"My husband and I fled in different directions. I went to the roof a neighbour's house. My husband was chased by the men firing guns. I stood on the roof and watched. I saw my husband trying to hide," Pradip Mondal's wife continued.
"The Trinamool criminals surrounded them. I could see everything. My husband was a big man but after being chased for at least 90 minutes, he jumped into a pond and put up his hands in surrender. They shot him in the left eye. I watched my husband die," she said.
Saturday's clash also led to a prolonged stand-off between BJP workers intent on carrying the bodies to Kolkata and police, sparking fears of more bloodshed and violence. The stand-off was resolved after the BJP workers stepped down and agreed to hold funerals at the victims' village.
The area in which the clashes took place is part of the Bashirhat Lok Sabha seat that was won by the Trinamool. Till late Saturday night, three bodies had been brought to a hospital in Bashirhat.
According to locals, the Trinamool was holding a booth-level meet at a marketplace at Hatgacha. Several BJP workers were in the vicinity. Insults and angry exchanges snowballed into violence.
The BJP claims Trinamool workers opened fire. The Trinamool claims the BJP workers pulled out pistols.