Politics over communal flare-ups continues in West Bengal

Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party blame each other for the recent communal flare-up during Ram Navami processions

April 03, 2023 08:21 pm | Updated 08:21 pm IST - Kolkata

Police deployed in large numbers after a clash broke out between two groups during Ram Navami procession, in Hooghly district on April 2, 2023.

Police deployed in large numbers after a clash broke out between two groups during Ram Navami procession, in Hooghly district on April 2, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

While the situation was limping back to normalcy in areas affected by violence in Howrah and Hooghly, the political war of words over the communal flare-up during Ram Navami processions continued on April 3 with leaders of the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blaming each other. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that BJP leaders were deliberately taking out rallies in minority areas without police permission. “Why will there be Ram Navami processions for five days?” Ms. Banerjee said, referring to clashes during Ram Navami procession at Rishra on Sunday.

She also raised the issue of ‘gun-toting” at the rallies and said that such practices could not be allowed. The Chief Minister also urged the administration to remain alert on Hanuman Jayanti on April 6.

Meanwhile in Delhi, BJP MPs Locket Chatterjee, Deboshree Chaudhuri and Khagen Murmu held a press conference and alleged that violence was a “pre-planned conspiracy” hatched by Ms. Banerjee. “This is the result of a pre-planned conspiracy by Mamata Banerjee to consolidate Muslim votes,” Ms. Chatterjee said. The Hooghly MP also demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister. The MPs sought intervention by the Centre and demanded a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

During the day, the police prevented State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar from visiting Rishra and Serampore.

This evoked a strong response from State BJP leadership with Mr. Majumdar observing a sit-in demonstration where he was stopped. The State BJP president argued that were BJP leaders not allowed when Trinamool leaders had visited the area. 

ALSO READ | CID takes over probe into Howrah Ram Navami clash

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure continued over parts of Rishra and internet services remained suspended overnight in some areas of the violence-hit Hooghly district.

Violence had occurred on Sunday after a Ram Navami procession was led by BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh. BJP MLA Biman Ghosh was injured in the violence when he was hit by a projectile in his face. Later in the day, BJP president J.P. Nadda spoke to Mr. Majumdar over telephone about the situation in Rishra.

 High Court seeks action taken report

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court on Monday sought an action taken report from the West Bengal government on the clashes by Wednesday.

It was hearing a petition filed by Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Suvendu Adhikari, demanding a probe by NIA into the violence at Howrah. 

 In another development, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR) sought a report from the Commissioner of Howrah City Police over the “use of children” in violence at Howrah. It sought urgent legal action against the perpetrators. “It is also desirable to identify the children who have been used in such violent activities, produce them before the Child Welfare Committee and their counselling may be done,” the letter by NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said. 

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