CID takes over probe into Howrah Ram Navami clash

38 persons had been arrested so far in connection with the violence during a Ram Navami procession on March 30; the situation in the area remains under control

April 01, 2023 10:10 pm | Updated April 02, 2023 03:56 pm IST - Kolkata

File photo of the aftermath of violence that erupted in parts of Howrah over a Ram Navami Procession.

File photo of the aftermath of violence that erupted in parts of Howrah over a Ram Navami Procession. | Photo Credit: DEBASISH BHADURI

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal Police on April 1 took over the investigation in connection with violence in Howrah during a Ram Navami procession on March 30. A team of forensic experts also visited the area and collected evidence. Senior police officials said that 38 persons had been arrested so far in connection with the violence, and the situation in the area remains under control, with traffic movement normalised.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor C. V. Ananda Bose late on Friday evening issued a strongly worded statement directing the police to be objective, strong, and fair in the matter. “There will be effective and concerted action to book the culprits and bring them before the law. Setting fire to public property, that too on the sacred Ram Navami day, is a highly provocative act and will be viewed seriously,” a press statement by the Raj Bhawan said.

The Governor, and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, also had a “confidential discussion to review the situation”. Sources said the decision to hand over the probe to the CID was taken after their discussion.  

Hotbed of rioting

Over the past few years, a number of incidents of rioting have been reported in the Howrah district. According to Right to Information (RTI) activist Biswanath Goswami, 59 cases of rioting were recorded in Howrah in only 18 months between 2021 and June 2022. These details were obtained on the basis of RTI queries, Mr. Goswami said, raising questions on “intelligence failure and negligence of the police authorities”.

In all, 23 incidents of rioting were recorded between January and June 2022, with 10 occurring in the Sankrail Police Station limits, and eight in the Domjur Police Station limits. In 2021, of the 36 incidents of rioting reported in Howrah, 26 were reported under the Domjur Police Station’s jurisdiction. In June 2022, violence had erupted in Domjur over offensive remarks made about Prophet Muhammad by a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson.

The violence on March 30 was under the Shibpur Police Station, and Mr. Goswami said that one incident of rioting had occurred at the police station in May 2021. A similar situation had erupted in 2022 during the Ram Navami procession in Howrah, in the same area where violence was reported on March 30.

Meanwhile, the political slugfest over the incident refuses to die down even as the situation has returned to normalcy. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Saturday took to social media saying the narrative that “Hindus are in danger” will continue till the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“The ‘Hindus are in danger’ narrative started full flow by @BJP as of Ramnavami. Will go on till 2024. Pak attack, Foreign forces targeting India bakwas running slow this time. Only fool-proof fallback is Hindu card. Jai Maa Kali. Buddhi de maa (Give them wisdom, Mother). Save my country,” she tweeted.

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