Supporters of BJP shout slogans as they block a road during a protest against the recent killings at Sandeshkhali in West Bengal on Sunday. AFP
At least 18 others were injured in the clashes that broke out Saturday in the eastern state that has been on edge since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an aggressive campaign to win parliamentary seats last year.
"Three of the dead were BJP workers while the other was a (regional) Trinamool party supporter," a police official told AFP.
Local BJP leader Mukul Roy tweeted that three BJP workers were shot dead and a Trinamool minister said one of his party members was killed in the fight.
Violence peaked across the state during the general election in April-May and has continued even after results were announced, giving a massive nationwide victory to the BJP.
Both the BJP and Trinamool, led by the firebrand Modi critic Mamata Banerjee, accuse each other of killings, intimidation and corruption.
Sandeshkhali, the site of the latest gun battle, remained tense on Sunday with more than 100 police personnel standing guard in the area, witnesses told AFP.
The BJP, which has traditionally held sway in the Hindi-speaking belt in the north, has been trying hard to pick up support in West Bengal where Banerjee's party has dominated for close to a decade.
It won 18 seats in the general election in West Bengal, up from the two that it managed in 2014, en route to its nationwide win. Trinamool won 22 while centre-left opposition party Congress picked up two of the total 42 seats in the state.
Modi's party won a huge 303 seats in the national parliament, increasing its previous tally of 282 seats in 2014.
Fight over flags
The clashes in Sandeshkhali broke out over the hoisting of BJP flags and the putting up of posters, said the BJP's general secretary in the state, Sayantan Basu.
"They tried to throw away our party flags and posters and when we protested, our workers were shot from point blank range," Basu was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI).
Local minister Jyotipriyo Mullick who belongs to the Trinamool party said one of their supporters was "hacked and shot dead by BJP workers".
State elections in West Bengal are scheduled to be held in 2021 with the BJP expected to give a tough fight again.
The state has witnessed some of the most violent feuds between rival parties.
Last month, a BJP supporter was shot dead in state capital Kolkata and a car belonging to a Trinamool member was pelted with rocks. In February, a Trinamool lawmaker was shot dead.
And last year, a BJP worker was killed and his body was hanged from a tree.
Modi has called the killings "shameful and anti-democratic".
Political killings are rife across India. While National Crime Bureau data said there were more than 100 political murders in 2016, experts say the figure was likely much higher.
Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states are the worst for political murders, the government data shows.
BJP leader BS Yediyurappa was on Friday sworn-in as the Karnataka Chief Minister. Yediyurappa, who had earlier on Friday staked his claim — three days after the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD-S-Congress government fell
"New India," Gandhi tweeted in a mocking vein, attaching two photographs of army personnel performing Yoga along with the dog squad on the occasion of International Day of Yoga.
Akash Vijayvargiya, an MLA from Indore III and son of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who thrashed a civic official with a cricket bat in full public view here on Wednesday morning was arrested and presented in the district court.
Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA, hosted John Rakolta Jr., the US Ambassador to the UAE, to share the latest developments surrounding the success of the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) revealed that that the number of licenced health and pharmaceutical facilities has surged to 3,410, while the total number of workers in the public and private health sector is 26,931.
The US death toll, meanwhile, has grown to 223,995. The total US caseload reported on the site Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, thanked the dedicated frontline healthcare workers for their service despite Covid-19 pandemic on World Polio Day.