8 charred bodies recovered from burnt houses in Bengal village
Credit: File Image

Rampurhat/Kolkata: Eight persons, including two children, died in the early hours of Tuesday after their houses were gutted in a fire at Rampurhat in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, police said.

The incident took place within an hour after the alleged murder of a Trinamool Congress panchayat leader on Monday, DGP Manoj Malaviya told reporters in Kolkata.

Malaviya said seven charred bodies were recovered from one of the burnt houses, while one injured person died in hospital.

Eleven people have been arrested in connection with the incident, he said.

The top police officer said TMC panchayat deputy chief of Barshal village, Bhadu Sheikh, was murdered around 8.30 pm on Monday.

Shortly after the murder, at least eight houses were allegedly set on fire in Bogtui village situated on the outskirts of Rampurhat town, which some claimed was in retaliation to the killing.

The situation is now under control and a police picket has been established in the village since last night. We are investigating how the houses caught fire and whether the incident is related to the death of the TMC panchayat leader, which appears to be due to a deep-rooted personal enmity, he said.

Asked about claims by some fire brigade officials that 10 bodies were found, the top police officer clarified while seven of them were recovered after the blaze was brought under control, three injured persons were rescued of whom one died in a hospital.

The SDPO and in-charge of Rampurhat police station have been removed from active policing duty, the DGP said.

The state government has set up a special investigation team headed by ADG (CID) Gyanwant Singh, Malaviya said.

The ruling TMC has also sent a three-member MLA team led by minister Firhad Hakim to the spot to take stock of the situation.

The incident triggered a war of words among political parties, with the opposition BJP and the CPI(M) alleging the state government was trying to hush up the matter.

We condemn such an attempt by the TMC government. The lawlessness in Bengal is virtually pushing the state towards President’s Rule, state BJP leader Manoj Tigga said.

CPI(M) state secretary Mohammed Salim said the cold-blooded killing of so many people by goons of the TMC is condemnable.

TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh rubbished the allegations, claiming the blaze was accidental, and that the administration has already done the needful.

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