A day after Bengal saw its largest ever celebration of Ram Navami, organised by outfits supported by the Sangh Parivar, there was tension in Kolkata’s sensitive Muslim-majority Port area — the economic hub of Kolkata — on Thursday. But unlike such similar incidents in the past, both Hindu and Muslim communities at Khidderpore and Metiabruz acted swiftly to ensure peace.
The trigger, sources said, was a group of people gathering outside Ismail Masjid at Khidderpore More and chanting religious slogans while prayers were being offered at the mosque.
After the prayers ended and people started leaving the mosque, the crowd dispersed, sources added. Following this, some people blocked the Karl Marx Sarani, demanding police action. Some also allegedly tried to attack the 150-year-old Krishna Chandra Das Modak sweet shop located around Ismail Mosque and Bhukailash Temple in the area. However, police and members from both communities intervened and the situation was brought under control.
Sources said the police suspect Thursday’s incident was a deliberate attempt to spread communal tension.
A police officer on duty at the area at the time of the incident, said: “All was fine on the eve of Ram Navami. However, a group of people took out a procession and gathered in front of Ismail Masjid when prayers were being offered. After people came out from the mosque, those who had gathered, left. This irked some people and they blocked the road… Some also tried to attack a sweet shop…”
“Following this, the members of the Hindu community too started coming from Bhukailash gathering in the area. Fortunately, most members of both communities acted sensibly and helped police control the situation. There is no communal tension in the area at all,” he added.
When contacted, the sweet shopowner, Dipankar Das, said: “A few people from Metiabruz blocked the road and a mob of about 40 to 50 people came to attack my shop… We had to pull down the shutters. At least 10 Muslim women and a few Hindu customers were inside my shop at that time. Fortunately, members of both communities stopped the attackers. Police also intervened and mob was dispersed. While I usually keep my shop open till midnight, yesterday I shut it at 7.30 pm.”
A police officer attached with Metiabruz police station said: “There was a little tension last night, following which, we have deployed one sergeant and two sub-inspector rank officials in front of all mosques in the area during prayers. Extra force has been deployed to make sure that all communities can stay in peace. It’s just a precautionary measure. Lots of rumours are being spread.”
On Friday, around 500 Muslims took part in afternoon prayers on Karl Marx Sarani, outside the Ismail Masjid. A massive force remained on their toes. Loudspeakers installed at the mosque repeatedly asked locals to maintain peace.
Following the incident, several rumours started doing rounds on the social media.
To prevent any untoward incident, the Kolkata Police also posted messages on the social media, asking people to not pay heed to any rumors of a “religious clash”. “Rumours are being spread about trouble in some areas of the city. This is absolutely false. We want to assure the citizens that the city is peaceful and there is no trouble anywhere. Rumours are being spread by people with ulterior motives,” a senior officer has tweeted.
Mohammed Ayub, general secretary of Khidderpore Merchant Welfare Association, said: “Some outsiders tried to create trouble and triggered anger among a few people from both communities. A small misunderstanding was created but it was handled by locals and police with utmost maturity. No one wants a communal clash. Fortunately, people of Khidderpore and Metiabruz area have understood the hidden agenda behind it.”
“However, as a precautionary measure, a meeting will be held which will be attended by members of both communities… We are planning to form a ‘Khidderpore peace community’ to fight against votebank politics,” he added.