The Class IV student, Mahadev Sharma, who had recently lost his mother, was admitted to the Ranaghat Subdivisional Hospital with multiple injuries.
The incident angered local residents, who beat up the accused, Mahadeb Pramanik, the tea stall owner at Phuliapara. The protesters also raised a blockade on NH12 demanding Pramanik’s arrest.
The police have said the boy is the son of a carpenter who is a known Trinamul Congress supporter. “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 Trinamul leanings,” said a witness, adding Pramanik seemed particularly irked by the child’s father’s recent “proactive involvement” during polls here on April 17.
“He started threatening the boy and wanted him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, which the boy refused,” the witness added.
Sharma was then reportedly thrashed by Pramanik until a few villagers rushed in to help.
Sharma, who was still in an apparent trauma, said from 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.”
Hospital sources said the boy had suffered injuries to his face, head and back, and had been advised a CT scan.
“The boy is in trauma, but is medically stable,” said a physician.
Peter Mukherjee, a local Trinamul youth wing leader, 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.”
Mahila Morcha leader Mithu Pramanik, wife of the accused, acknowledged the attack, but blamed the boy for alleged provocation.
“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 the shop, breaking glass containers. This made my husband lose his cool and he slapped him for the damages,” she claimed.
“It is unfortunate that Trinamul is using the incident to malign us,” she added.
The boy’s father, Shyamchand Sharma, said he could have never imagined that his 10-year-old son could be subjected to violence for his political leanings. “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,” he said.
Santipur police said a probe had already been launched. “A police team has also visited the home of the accused. We are trying to find out what exactly happened. However, till evening, no formal complaint has been lodged,” said an official.
BJP worker Akhil Pramanik, 36, was found hanging from a tree in his courtyard at Kalna on Monday, prompting the party to accuse Trinamul of murdering him.
Kalna police have started a probe after the wife of the BJP worker lodged a murder complaint. BJP leaders said Pramanik was an active party worker in the area and had recently been threatened by goons with dire consequences if he did not stay away from the BJP.
Trinamul said Pramanik had killed himself.