In West Bengal's Nadia district, a 10-year-old boy was allegedly thrashed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker for not chanting "Jai Shri Ram."
The incident took place when the student, Mahadev Sharma, was passing by the tea stall owned by the BJP worker, Mahadeb Pramanik, husband of Mithu Pramanik, the local chief of the BJP Mahila Morcha, the women's wing of the party, at Phulia in Nadia.
The boy was admitted to Ranaghat Subdivisional Hospital with multiple injuries to his face, head, and back and advised with a CT scan. A physician said, "The boy is in trauma but is medically stable."
Following the incident, angered locals beat up the worker, and some of them also raised a blockade on National Highway 12. The police began a probe on a suo motu basis and, assuring the protestors that Pramanik would be arrested, managed to lift the blockade in an hour. However, sources have said that Pramanik managed to flee. A formal complaint against the accused was also not lodged until the evening.
"The boy was passing by Pramanik's tea stall. He was singled out because of his father's leanings. This was evident because Pramanik summoned him and began verbally abusing the boy's father over his Trinamool leanings," said a witness, "He started threatening the boy and wanted him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram,' which the boy refused."
The witness further noted that Pramanik was particularly annoyed by the boy's father's recent "proactive involvement" during the Bengal Election polls on April 17. Pramanik then thrashed the boy until a few locals rushed in to help.
While still in trauma, the boy said from his hospital bed, "He (Pramanik) insisted I chant 'Jai Shri Ram' and was abusing my father. When I refused, he started to beat and slap me and then kick me. Luckily, some locals rushed in to help."
Local Trinamul youth leader Peter Mukherjee said, "Some villagers rescued the boy in a semi-conscious state and informed me. I immediately rushed to the spot and took him to the hospital. The incident proved yet again how cruel the BJP can be. It is unimaginable that he did not spare even a child who lost his mother."
Local BJP women's wing chief and wife of the accused, Mithu Pramanik, acknowledged the attack but blamed the boy for provocation, saying, "It is true that my husband asked the boy to chant 'Jai Shri Ram.' But he said it jovially as he often does with many because the boy is known to him…. In fact, some customers who were present at the shop also retorted in jest that the boy should ask my husband to chant 'Jai Bangla.' But the boy picked up a stone and threw it in the shop, breaking glass containers. This made my husband lose his cool, and he slapped him for the damages."
She added, "It is unfortunate that Trinamul is using the incident to malign us."
Shyamchand Sharma, the boy's father, expressed surprise at his son being attacked for his political leanings. He said, "On the day of the election, BJP workers had been trying to influence voters, which I protested against. So, it appears they took revenge by attacking my son."