The death of former Left leader Anish Khan Sunday snowballed into a major controversy in West Bengal, with political parties alleging involvement of ruling TMC leaders in the incident, though the West Bengal government rubbished the charges and pointed fingers at a deep rooted conspiracy hatched outside the state.
Hundreds of activists of CPI(M)'s student wing SFI broke barricades placed before Amta police station in Howrah district earlier in the day, and organised demonstrations across West Bengal in protest against the death of Khan.
Khan's family had alleged that people donning police uniforms entered their residence in Amta on Friday night, dragged the student activist, who had gained prominence during the anti-CAA stir, to the terrace and threw him down, causing his death.
Police, however, denied the allegation that any law enforcer had gone to his house, and said that he was found dead near his residence.
SP Howrah Rural, Soumya Roy, said a DSP-ranking officer will conduct a high-level investigation. He added that a forensic team went to the spot, collected samples and reconstructed the alleged incident.
The father of Khan, 27, demanded a CBI probe, contending that "we don't have faith in the state police.
Khan, who had been with the SFI in the past and a prominent face in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests at Park Circus Maidan in late 2019 and 2020, later joined the Indian Secular Front.
He continued to speak against the policies of the central government and those of the Mamata banerjee-led dispensation, and also alleged corruption at the panchayat level.
"We demand a high-level probe. We could have stormed into the police station, but we restrained the protesters as we believe in a democratic movement," senior SFI leader Dipsita Dhar said, after submitting a memorandum, claiming inconsistencies in the version of police about the unnatural death of Khan.
"We will take out a rally from The Statesman House point in Esplanade to Mahajati Sadan area near M G Road (on Monday) demanding justice for Anish and the arrest of those sheltered by local TMC leaders," Debnil Paul, another SFI leader, said.
CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Bhattacharya, who joined the protests, also sought an investigation into the death of Khan by an independent agency, and said the party will move the Calcutta High Court in this regard.
Bhattacharya later went to the residence of Khan, a student of Aliah University who had recently enrolled for a PG course at Kalyani University, and spoke to his family members, as did a Congress delegation led by former MLA Asit Mitra.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, claimed that TMC leaders were responsible for the former Left leader's death.
"TMC men are behind every such incident. How could the assailants procure police uniforms and rifles?" he said.
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also alleged that it was a "pre-planned murder" and demanded that those guilty should not get any political protection.
However, Transport Minister and Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakim claimed that the incident was a result of a conspiracy hatched outside the state.
"... It is reminiscent of happenings in Uttar Pradesh, and not a state like West Bengal, which has a history of progressive movements and democratic traditions. We suspect that it was planned outside by those who didn't want Khan to be around. Let the investigation be completed," he said.
Countering him, BJP state President Sukanta Majumdar said: "From what I gather, the four intruders at Anish's residence were speaking in Bengali. And, they came soon after the young student activist returned from a musical soiree in the area on that fateful night. This indicates local involvement. Which party has a strong network in that area?"
Actors and social activists like Kaushik Sen and Bolan Gangopadhyay also urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to bring to book the culprits. Otherwise, there will be serious erosion in public faith about the state administration," they said.
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