Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghosh has claimed that a party worker died during clashes with police in Siliguri town this afternoon.
A tweet posted by the opposition party shows the body of a man – whom local media reports say is 50-year-old Ulen Roy from Jalpaiguri district – lying in what appears to be a hospital bed. The 15-second video shows the pink sheet covering the body being pulled down to reveal what the BJP says are “pellet wounds”.
“Ulen Roy, BJP worker, died due to police lathicharge. He was demanding development of North Bengal. Pishi (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) is (also) the Home Minister of Bengal and is directly responsible for his death,” Bengal BJP said in its tweet.
There is no official confirmation as yet on the death or its cause.
Violence broke out in the north Bengal town earlier today after protest marches led by Mr Ghosh, National Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Lok Sabha MP Tejaswi Surya converged on “Uttarkanya”, the Siliguri secretariat.
The protestors, agitating against what they say is the misrule of the ruling Trinamool Congress, were met with a large police force armed with water cannons and tear gas, and deployed behind layes of barricades built from bamboo and tied together with ropes.
Chaos unfolded as the BJP workers rushed the barricade, with police firing tear gas and using water cannons to beat back the protesters. At one point women volunteers ran to the barricades, trying to untie the ropes holding them together so other protesters could get through.
The police then resorted to a lathi charge and each side threw stones at the other. Visuals from the scene resembled a war zone, with police charging at protesters as tear gas shells exploded.
“We were protesting peacefully. We are not scared of guns, lathis or bombs. We are ready to die to protect Bengal,” Kailash Vijayvargiya said, declaring that it was time for Bengal to be put under President’s Rule.
“The police, the police were throwing stones. And with them Trinamool thugs were throwing country-made bombs. This is not a time to be silent. This is a time to act to save democracy in Bengal,” Tejaswi Surya, a Lok Sabha MP from Karnataka, said.
Ms Banerjee, who earlier today held a rally in West Midnapur district in support of the farmers protesting against the centre’s new farm laws, has yet to respond.
However, Trinamool minister Gautam Deb hit back at the BJP’s claims of lawlessnes in Bengal under Ms Banerjee’s charge, saying it was the opposition party that had brought thugs with them to engineer chaos and violence.
The violence in Siliguri comes with just months to go for Assembly elections in the state, where the BJP has made no secret of its plan to remove Ms Banerjee and the Trinamool from power.