The Trinamool Congress and various saffron outfits are gearing up for Hanuman Jayanti, which will be marked on March 31, even as parts of the state simmer following incidents of violence during Ram Navami celebrations.
The state administration is planning large police deployments across the state to ensure peace.
During Ram Navami, and in the following days, violence marked various parts of Bengal with three dead and many injured, including police officers. Violence erupted in Purulia, Kankinara (North 24 Parganas), Raniganj and Asansol in West Burdwan. Despite a ban, various groups took out armed rallies across the state. Later, over two dozen people were arrested and cases registered against BJP leaders.
“We will take no chances. There will be a large police deployment during that day to prevent any untoward incident. Already police stations have been directed to hold meetings to ensure celebrations are peaceful. We have identified troubled spots in different parts of the state and special police arrangements will be made in those areas,” said a senior police officer from the state Secretariat.
Parties such as the BJP and VHP confirmed that they expect Hanuman Jayanti celebrations to be a comparatively low-key affair, concentrated mostly in temples and mutts.
“It will be celebrated throughout Bengal. BJP leaders, wherever they are invited, will participate in the celebrations. However, compared to Ram Navami where lakhs turn out on the streets, Hanuman Jayanti has always been a comparatively-key affair,” said BJP state secretary Sayantan Basu.
The VHP leadership said celebrations will mostly concentrate in temples and mutts, but did not rule out rallies.
“We are yet to decide on rallies on Hanuman Jayanti, but obviously it will be celebrated throughout Bengal in temples and mutts. Till March 31, we have a national programme of Isht Naam Jop (remembering the deities) in temples and mutts. There will be deliberations over building Ram Mandir there too,” said Sourish Mukherjee, VHP spokesperson.
The Bajrang Dal confirmed that it will hold rallies, adding its rallies are “peaceful”.
“There are around 30 to 32 akharas in Purulia. Every year, they take our rallies on Hanuman Jayanti. This year will be no different. We are for peace and co-existence… But we should not be provoked or attacked. In different parts of Bengal Ram Navami rallies were attacked,” said Suraj Sharma, Purulia co-ordinator of Bajrang Dal.
One person had died during a clash between Bajrang Dal and police in Purulia on March 25. Later, youths were seen brandishing guns at a separate Bajrang Dal rally in Purulia town.
“Miscreants with arms penetrated our rally during Ram Navami to defame us. But still, it was peaceful during Ram Navami,” claimed Sharma. The Trinamool Congress has also planned a number of rallies in areas such as Howrah on Hanuman Jayanti. Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, cricketer-turned-Trinamool MLA and minister, is expected to lead one of the biggest such rallies.
“I participated in a Ram Navami programme. I will be there during Hanuman Jayanti rally. There will be a chariot with Lord Hanuman on it and people will carry gada (maces). The rally will propagate peace,” said Shukla.