Chopra in North Dinajpur district in north Bengal turned into a battleground on Sunday afternoon, hours after a 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered. But police said the post mortem revealed that she died of poisoning.
The girl had appeared for the class 10 state board examination this year.
Local people torched three government buses and two police vehicles and vandalised a number of other vehicles. Shouting “we want justice,” the mob also attacked policemen while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders took up the issue alleging that the girl belonged to a family of BJP supporters and thus became a target of goons backed by the ruling Trinamool Congress party.
At least 30 people, including some police personnel, were injured in the pitched battles. Tension was palpable in the area till late evening.
Watch: Police fire teargas to control violent protests in West Bengal
The area where the alleged rape and murder took place comes under the Chaturagaj-Sonapur gram panchayat area of the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency. She was found by the roadside early in the morning, around 700 metres away from her home, and taken to Chopra hospital and subsequently to Islampur sub-divisional hospital where doctors pronounced her dead.
The family of the victim claimed that a mobile phone and a cycle of the suspected murderer were recovered from the spot but a police officer who requested anonymity said “A bottle of poison was also found.”
Local people and BJP supporters blocked the Chopra state highway for hours. In the afternoon, they blockaded NH-31. When police tried to remove the roadblocks, the protesters hurled stones. Several clashes ensued and police had to use baton-charge tear gas shells to bring the situation under control.
Kartik Chandra Mondal, additional superintendent of police, Islampur said, “The body has been sent for post mortem examination.”
The elder brother of the girl alleged that his sister was raped and murdered because his family supports the BJP. He claimed that he is a local BJP leader and blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the incident.
Surajit Sen, vice president of the BJP Uttar Dinajpur district committee said “TMC-backed miscreants committed the heinous crime.”
Gautam Deb, state tourism minister condemned the murder and blamed the BJP for resorting to dirty politics over her death.
Deb said “Two state ministers and a member of Parliament will visit the girl’s house. We are with the family.”
Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista said, “Local people informed me that she was raped and poisoned. In the past few years, Chopra has seen exponential rise in illegal infiltration and crime. This was once a peaceful region.”
The West Bengal Police on Sunday night said in a series of tweets that preliminary report of the post mortem examination pointed at death caused by poisoning and did not show any sign of rape. The tweets also said that the girl’s family did not lodge any complaint and police acted on its own.
“Today morning Islampur PD received a reliable information about the death of a young girl of Chopra PS area. Family members or any other associated persons didn’t inform Police. Police contacted the family and sent the body for Post Mortem,” said one of the tweets.
“Inquest by a magistrate and videography of the Post Mortem was done. As per the PM report cause of death is “effect of poison”. No injury marks anywhere in the body has been found. There is no sign of sexual or physical assault. Though law and order problem has been created over the issue, yet no complaint has been lodged with police,” the police said in another tweet.
The incident in Chopra happened six days after Debendranath Roy, a BJP legislator from Hemtabad in North Dinajpour was found hanging around two km away from his home. The BJP has demanded a CBI inquiry, calling it a political murder. Chandima Roy, the legislator’s wife has moved the Calcutta high court demanding CBI enquiry. The state CID has arrested one man in the case