Mobs torched police vehicles, vandalised shops and blocked roads leading to the India-Bangladesh border after a derogatory post on social media triggered clashes in Baduria and Basirhat areas of North 24-Parganas district. The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday dispatched three companies of paramilitary forces after the state government sought the Centre’s help. The MHA also asked the state government for a detailed report on the incident.
According to police, the trouble began after a Class X student allegedly put up a derogatory post on Facebook on Monday. The boy was nabbed on Monday evening, but mobs vandalised shops and homes and blocked major roads in protest. They also demonstrated in front of Baduria police station.
On Tuesday, locals continued to block Taki Road, leading to the India-Bangladesh border. Schools and colleges were shut. Local trains and bus services were stopped by the protesters. In the afternoon, BJP workers and supporters too started blocking roads in parts of the district, alleging police inaction against rioters.
Hindu groups organised protests in Kolkata against the tension in Baduria. Four protesters — Sanjay Goswami, Rajarshi Lahiri, Suraj Poddar and Surojit Biswas — were arrested. They are reportedly VHP members.
“The situation is very tense. There is heavy deployment of policemen,” said Bhaskar Bhattacharya, Police Superintendent of North 24 Parganas. Companies of BSF’s South Bengal Frontier have been deployed in Basirhat, Swarupnagar, Baduria and Devganga police stations areas.
Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali, who visited the area on Tuesday, said, “I tried my best to restore peace.”
The vehicle of BJP general secretary Debasree Chowdhury was stopped by police on the way to Baduria, after which party workers led by Chowdhury held a demonstration at the Barasat district headquarters demanding arrest of the rioters.
The BJP sought the central government’s intervention in the matter as the state police had “failed to control the situation”. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, also alleged that five BJP offices had been attacked in the district.
“More than 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu families. Bombs went off at many places and information of Hindu sisters and daughters being raped have also been received,” he wrote.
Vijayavargiya, who is in charge of the BJP’s state affairs, said that given the area’s proximity to Bangladesh, there was a possibility that “outsiders” were involved in the violence.
“Due to minority appeasement and vote bank politics of TMC government, law and order at Baduria has collapsed and immediate deployment of central forces is required,” state BJP secretary Sayantan Basu said in a press release.
BJP MP and Union minister Babul Supriyo tweeted that he spoke to Rajnath on the issue.
In a press statement, CPM state secretary Surya Kant Mishra said, “Our immediate attention should be to restore peace in the disturbed areas, where communal tension is being fanned by certain forces. We have sought an all-party meeting over the issue, if needed central forces should be called in.”