The opposition has trained its guns on the TMC after reports of a massive explosion in West Bengal came in on Wednesday, December 1. A blast tore through a building in the residential area of Mohanpur village, Nodakhali in South 24 Parganas district located about 45 kilometres away from South Kolkata. The building was serving as a firecracker factory in the densely populated area, said a police official. Reports suggest this firecracker manufacturing unit was running illegally. The roof of the building was blown off due to the blast and adjoining buildings have sustained major damages due to the high-intensity explosion.
Reportedly the locals had often raised concerns against the factory loaded with an enormous amount of explosives in the residential neighbourhood. Shockwaves were experienced throughout the location after the explosion. Three people in the building were killed and reportedly their bodies were torn apart in pieces. Several others have sustained severe injuries. Locals claim that there were 5 people working in the building at the time of the explosion; though three of them have been reported killed, others remain missing.
“A probe is on. Local people said the house belonged to Ashim Mondal. It was damaged in the explosion which also set the building on fire. The bodies were badly charred. The incident happened early in the morning. We are trying to find out if the factory had a licence,” shared a police officer. A police contingent was also rushed to the location to douse the fire at the building. Inspector-in-charge of Nodakhali police station, Partha Sarathi Ghosh told the Hindustan Times that two of the victims were men and one was a woman. However, senior district police officers had not issued any official statements revealing the identity of the killed or injured individuals till 4 PM, Wednesday while the explosion had taken place in the early morning hours.
BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh also weighed in on the situation. “The incident has reminded us once again that West Bengal is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The area where the explosion took place today is known for criminal activities. The area witnessed violence after the recent assembly polls. The explosion should be probed and the culprits booked immediately,” he said.
Local Bengali YouTube news channel, Arambhag TV has also raised doubts about the actual nature of activities carried out in the building. Keeping in view the enormity of the explosion, journalist Safiqul Islam questions, “Were they making only fireworks or even bombs in that factory? How can there be such a large amount of gunpowder stored in the building that could have caused a blast that not only blew off the roof of the building but also resulted in damages in neighbouring houses.”
Though TMC leaders have not reacted to the allegation made by the BJP leadership yet, IC Ghosh indirectly addressed the concern raised by the BJP and said, “The deceased used to live in that house. The investigation has revealed that it was a small factory where sparklers, rockets etc. used to be made before festivals. We have not found any evidence of terrorist activity that is being alleged.”
The Bengal BJP continues to mount pressure on the ruling dispensation as Nodakhali falls under the Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency represented by Abhishek Banerjee. Banerjee is the national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress and also the nephew of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
“The National Investigation Agency (NIA) should take up this investigation as this is not the first time that explosives have claimed lives in Bengal. I will write to Union home minister Amit Shah and urge him to order an NIA probe,” asserted BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar.