BJP Councillor Shot Dead in Bengal as 'Assembly War' Continues to Draw Blood
By: Sashwata Saha
Manish Shukla, a BJP councillor was shot dead by unidentified assailants in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas’ Titagarh area on Sunday. This is the twelfth politically motivated murder since the beginning of ‘Unlock’ on June 1.
So far, six of the victims were from the BJP, five from Trinamool, and one from the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI).
Following Shukla’s death, his political mentor BJP MP Arjun Singh called a 12-hour bandh in Barrackpore earlier today. The strike, which is supposed to be lifted at 3 pm, saw BJP party workers clashing with the West Bengal Police at various places in West Midnapore and North 24 Parganas districts. Meanwhile, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar summoned the state home secretary, and Director General of Police Virendra, to the Raj Bhavan at 10 am.
Local sources told Newshound India Foundation that Shukla was shot after returning from a meeting in Habra with other party leaders. He was chatting with a few people at a tea stall just outside the city around 8.30 pm when a motorcycle pulled up and two masked gunmen opened several rounds of fire. The bullets hit Shukla on the chest and forehead. He was taken to a private hospital in Kolkata but was declared dead at 9.20 pm.
Singh blames that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for “his brother’s” murder, he told Newshound India Foundation over the phone, “Manish was with me till 7.00 pm. Just outside the Titagarh police station, in front of the police, the killers fired 12 shots at him! He was declared dead at Apollo Hospital. We will bring the killers to justice, no matter who is protecting them!”
The TMC has denied the allegations. Local councillor Ashima Chakravarty said, “Everybody in Titagarh knows that the killing was because of the in-fighting within their own ranks.” She also went a step further and accused Singh, himself, of setting the whole incident up “to stir up trouble and take potshots at the administration months before the Assembly polls.”
Arjun Singh and Manish Shukla were both with the TMC before jumping ship in 2019. Singh is considered to be a Hindutva hardliner in the area and is unpopular with the tribal population. Shukla was reputed to be a local goon and Singh’s right-hand. He had survived a similar attack in 2018. At the time, he was a supervisor at the Titagarh wagon factory and a member of the ruling party.
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