Eight people, including two children, were charred to death as nearly a dozen huts were set ablaze in West Bengal's Birbhum district early Tuesday in a suspected fallout of the murder of a ruling TMC panchayat official, provoking calls by the opposition BJP for imposition of the President's rule.
Altogether 11 people have been arrested so far, and the West Bengal government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Additional Director General (CID) Gyanwant Singh to probe the incident, state police chief Manoj Malviya said. The residents of Bogtui village on the outskirts of Rampurhat town were jolted out of sleep by the deafening sounds of bomb explosions. They tried to douse the flames and called the police and fire brigade for help, as flames leapt from one thatched house to another, killing seven people including two children, while another person who was rescued died later in a hospital.
Najira Bibi, one of those who managed to survive, told PTI from her hospital bed at Rampurhat, We were sleeping and suddenly heard the sound of bombs the miscreants set our houses on fire. I managed to escape but don't know what happened to others in the family.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar went for each other's jugular over the incident, while the Union home ministry sought a detailed report from the state government.
A 9-member delegation of BJP MPs including the party's national vice president Dilip Ghosh, Locket Chatterjee and Arjun Singh met Home Minister Amit Shah in the national capital and sought his intervention to punish the perpetrators of the incident.
BJP president J P Nadda constituted a five-member committee, which includes four MPs, to visit the site of the tragedy.
The members of the fact-finding committee are former Uttar Pradesh DGP Brij Lal, former Mumbai police commissioner Satya Pal Singh, former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy, West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar -- all MPs -- and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh.
The incident, West Bengal DGP Malviya said, occurred hours after the killing of TMC's Barshal village panchayat's deputy chief Bhadu Sheikh around 8.30 pm on Monday.