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Protests against Prophet remarks | West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar arrested on way to Howrah

Protestors in Kolkata hold placards demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Muhammed

Protestors in Kolkata hold placards demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Muhammed | Photo Credit: Reuters

As violent protests over offensive remarks directed at Prophet Muhammed continued to rage for the third day in West Bengal, State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar was on Saturday arrested while he was on his way to Howrah district.

Police tried to dissuade the BJP leader from proceeding to Howrah which has been witnessing violence since Thursday.. but he was insistent. The BJP leader’s convoy was stopped near the toll plaza on Vivekananda Setu and he was arrested. He was taken to Lalbazar Police headquarters in a police vehicle.

Earlier in the day, there was a scuffle between BJP supporters and West Bengal police as they prevented the State BJP president from leaving his residence in Kolkata’s New Town area. Mr. Majumdar had said that the police were trying to put him under house arrest. Soon after the arrest, BJP supporters under the leadership of MLA Agnimitra Paul and Priyanka Tibrewal gathered outside Lalbazar Police Headquarters. Mr. Majumdar along with his supporters was released later in the day. According to Kolkata Police, several BJP supporters were taken in custody as preventive arrest and were later released.

Meanwhile, there was fresh violence at Panchala in Howrah, where protesters clashed with police. Several shops, a few houses including an ATM were set on fire in Panchala on saturday. Violence was also reported from Reginagar in State’s Murshidabad district where mob pelted stones and set some installations on fire later in the evening.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, said that there were attempts by some political parties to incite riots. “Violent incidents have been taking place in Howrah for two days now. There are some political parties behind this and they want to incite riots; but this will not be tolerated and strict action will be taken against all of them. The BJP will sin, people will suffer?” Ms. Banerjee said on Twitter. The Chief Minister had on Thursday appealed for calm and demanded the arrest of the suspended BJP spokespersons. She had also told agitators that there was no reason to hold demonstrations in West Bengal.

Police officers transferred

On Saturday, Commissioner of Howrah City Police C Sudhakar and Superintendent of Howrah Rural Police Soumya Roy were shunted out. Praveen Tripathi will be the new Howrah Police Commissioner and Swati Bhangalia will be SP of Howrah Rural Police. Internet services remained suspended and prohibitory orders were imposed on Saturday in large parts of West Bengal’s Howrah district after two days of violent protests against the remarks on Prophet Muhammed made by BJP spokespersons. The State government had also suspended internet services in Rejinagar and Beldanga areas in Murshidabad district, which also witnessed violence till June 14.

Police appeals not to fall to rumors

Along with road and railway blockades for hours, violence was reported in parts of Uluberia Subdivision in Howrah on June 9 and 10. Several vehicles and motorbikes, including those belonging to police, were attacked and set on fire. State Minister and Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Firhad Hakim said nobody condoned what happened on Friday at Howrah, but BJP leaders Sukanta Majumdar and Suvendu Adhikari should stop inciting people. “This will further aggravate the situation,” the TMC leader said.

West Bengal police also through its social media handles urged people “not succumb or spread fake news inciting any violence”. “Let’s unite against hatred! We urge citizens across the state to not succumb or spread fake news inciting any violence. Please report them to WBP. Section 144 has currently been imposed in city & internet services suspended till Monday 6 AM,” West Bengal Police tweeted.

Later in the evening, a BJP delegation met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. Mr . Dhankhar had been vocal about the situation and on Saturday pointed out that since June 9 “there has been awful administration failure that took no preventive and precautionary measures”.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2022 12:32:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/attempts-by-some-parties-to-incite-riots-says-mamata-on-howrah-violence/article65517106.ece