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Communal Violence: TMC, BJP Blame Each Other for Riots in Kolkata

Communal Violence: TMC, BJP Blame Each Other for Riots in Kolkata


Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 31: Fresh incidents of violence were reported in Howrah district in West Bengal’s capital city of Kolkata on Friday afternoon, a day after outbreak of arson and stone pelting following an alleged attack on a Ram Navami procession on Thursday.

At around 1.30 pm on Friday, a mob went on a rampage, attacking shops and vehicles and pelting stones at the cops stationed in the area. The sudden eruption of violence surprised many as the situation was peaceful in the morning and the police officers conducted marches in the area.

The Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Governor CV Ananda Bose and the state BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar to take stock of the situation. The Governor, who will soon be visiting the riot-hit areas, is believed to have given Shah details about the violence and the present situation.

“So far, 36 people have been arrested. Efforts are being taken to bring the situation under control,” a senior police official informed. He added that stones were pelted from both sides of Shibpur Police Station and security has been tightened in areas between Kazipara near the Ganges Garden Apartment and PM Basti.

“It is not yet clear as to what triggered today’s violence. It seems to be a planned action by some miscreants. Last year too, this area had witnessed tension post Ram Navami celebrations, but not to the extent that is being seen this year,” a police officer on duty in the area said. Heavy police deployment is currently seen in the area.

Both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have shared videos as evidence to show who is responsible for the violence on Ram Navami. A large police force was deployed following the violence between two groups. They had gone on a rampage, burning vehicles, throwing stones and damaging shops.

The BJP shared videos showing some men vandalising shops and throwing stones at the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the police. In the videos shared by the Trinamool Congress, the party of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, red circles are drawn over some men to highlight them as they are seen holding guns and other weapons at the Ram Navami procession, which allegedly took an “unauthorised route to target and attack one community,” according to Ms Banerjee.

“The BJP is instigating violence in Bengal. Videos show men carrying guns at Ram Navami rally,” Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee said. “A criminal has no religion… He meets Union Home Minister in Delhi and then returns to Kolkata. He holds a public meeting the next day and says ‘watch TV tomorrow’. The next day there are riots. Aap chronology samajhiye (understand the chronology),” said Banerjee, the nephew of the Chief Minister, alluding to Bengal BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari’s meeting with Amit Shah and Shah’s well-known “aap chronology samajhiye” barb often thrown at rivals.

Banerjee alleged the BJP has approached the high court seeking a probe by the National Investigation Agency, a central body, as they want to avoid being investigated in the state to “escape action.” “They know

The Bengal Chief Minister has accused the BJP for allegedly trying to stoke communal tension during the procession. She alleged the BJP had hired goons from other states to orchestrate communal riots. But the BJP MP Locket Chatterjee alleged that “Hindus in Bengal are under threat” and accused Ms Banerjee, who is also the state’s Home Minister, of appeasement politics. “It is disheartening. Such visuals emerge from Bengal every Ram Navami and Durga idol immersion. It is not acceptable that the lives of Hindus in Bengal are under threat. When there was violence in Howrah yesterday, Mamata Banerjee was sitting on a 30-hour dharna,” she said.

An 18-year-old girl, who was caught in between Friday’s clashes, said: “I had come to lodge a complaint at the police station today morning but was stuck here for nearly two hours. The situation outside was scary.” On Thursday, according to reports, some people started pelting stones as the procession was passing through the Muslim-dominated PM Basti area. As tension escalated between the two groups, some shops, and houses were vandalised and vehicles were set on fire.

Chief Minister blaming the BJP said, “Time and again, they keep trying to stoke communal violence and it is the only thing they’re good at. Even today, they caused communal violence in Howrah. I have repeatedly said that I will not block any Ram Navami procession. I had given instructions to my party workers as well as the police. While one community is celebrating Annapurna Puja, the other is observing fast during Ramzan. We have over 33 per cent Muslim population in the state, they fast and pray during this significant period.

To this, BJP Bengal president Dr Sukanta Banerjee had tweeted: “Yesterday’s attack and arson on Ram Navami processions in various locations in West Bengal is a direct result of CM Mamata Banerjee’s provocative statements against organizers of Ram Navami. We can clearly see WB police standing with the rioters & watching silently.”
Meanwhile, in Bihar a clash broke out on Friday between two groups in Sasaram, just days ahead of Amit Shah’s visit to the very place to attend a BJP function for the celebration of Emperor Asoka’s birth anniversary.

The tension had been building since Thursday over taking out a Ram Navami procession. By Friday afternoon, the tension spiralled into a full-blown clash, with the groups attacking each other with stones, injuring a policeman and a civilian. The situation, however, is now under control, say authorities. Videos from the scene showed men, with wooden sticks in hand, going on a rampage. The roads were littered with stones, with some men clutching their head as they were hit.







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