Kolkata: At least 11 people were killed and seven others injured in an explosion at a firecracker factory in West Bengal's West Midnapore district, police said on Thursday.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced handing over of investigations into the incident to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), but the BJP demanded a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claiming that it was a terror act.
The explosion took place late Wednesday at Brahmanbar village in Pingla area of the district, some 120 km from here.
"Eleven people have been killed and seven others injured in the explosion that took place in a fire cracker factory. The condition of the injured is critical... the toll may rise," Superintendent of Police Bharati Ghosh told IANS.
Ranjan Maity, the owner of the building that housed the factory, has been arrested.
"We have arrested Maity. We have received complaints that the factory was illegal and it was used for manufacturing bombs. We are looking into all aspects," said Santosh Mondal, the sub-divisional police officer of Kharagpur.
Speaking at a government event at Namkhana in South 24 Parganas, Banerjee said the CID has been entrusted the probe in the incident.
"The incident is very unfortunate and we have ordered the CID to probe it. I also urge the civic police volunteers to be more vigilant and report to the police any such activity which puts human life in peril," said Banerjee.
While the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Congress have alleged the involvement of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the incident, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded a probe by the NIA.
"This is not an isolated incident but an extension of the last year's blast in Burdwan in which terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujhahideen was involved. We all know the police will never do anything to solve the case so we demand a NIA probe into the incident," state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.
Former CPI-M MP Sujon Chakrabarty as well as Congress leader Abdul Mannan alleged the involvement of the Trinamool claiming that the factory was used for making bombs.
"It was not a cracker rather a bomb manufacturing factory. We have reports that bombs manufactured here were distributed all across the state by Trinamool goons and were even used in the recent civic polls," CPI-M state secretariat member Chakraborty said.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan too blamed the ruling Trinamool for the rising acts of terrorism in the state and demanded a through probe into the incident.
Local residents have claimed the death toll to be higher alleging the factory was used for making crude bombs.
"Despite our repeated reports that the factory was being illegally used to manufacture bombs, the police refused to pay any heed. Had they taken action, this tragedy could have been averted," said a resident.
The locals have also claimed that Ranjan Maity was a Trinamool leader and was involved in the incident. But the ruling party has denied the charge.
"Ranjan Maity was earlier a party member but now he is no more associated with us," district Trinamool leader Ajit Maity said.