The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday sought a report from the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government over recent reports of arson and violence during Ram Navami processions, while it spared the Nitish Kumar government of Bihar, where similar reports have emerged.
In its communication, the MHA is reported to have asked the West Bengal government to send a report on incidents of continuing violence and tension in some districts of the state, the steps being taken to restore normalcy and the action taken against those involved in the violence.
A senior MHA official told The Indian Express that the Centre had sought a report only from the West Bengal government and that it was monitoring the situation in Bihar but no report had been sought from that state.
The West Bengal government, on its part, rejected the Centre’s offer to send paramilitary forces to control the situation in violence-hit Raniganj. Instead, the state sent a special security team under Vineet Kumar Goyal, Additional Commissioner (I) of Kolkata Police, to the area.
West Bengal Education Minister and TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee on Wednesday said, “I heard from the media that the Centre desires to send paramilitary force if the state government wants… We have handled difficult situations in the past with our own force… The Centre is unnecessarily meddling in the affairs of the state.”
Three people were killed and nearly two dozen injured in clashes during Ram Navami processions at various places in West Bengal, including Purulia, Murshidabad, West Bardhman, Asansol and Raniganj. On Tuesday, Union minister and BJP’s Asansol MP Babul Supriyo had apprised Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the Raniganj violence and requested him to send central paramilitary forces.
Alleging that taking out illegal armed processions every now and then had become a fashion among BJP leaders, BSP chief Mayawati said in a statement, “The BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is adopting double standards while dealing with Bihar and West Bengal governments, as the former is led by their own coalition and the latter by Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee.”
She added, “…in a similar case in Bihar, the government there is out to save the son of a Union minister.” She was referring to Union minister Ashwini Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat, who has been booked for “inciting” communal clashes in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district last week. “Why does the Centre have such double standards in the matter of law and order, peace and harmony?” she said.
Banerjee responded on Twitter: “Thank you Mayawati Ji for your comments about Bengal. You have exposed the BJP govt. BJP govt is scared as we are all working together.”
The CM, who is in the national capital, is likely to meet Rajnath Singh on Thursday. She has asked West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi not to visit Raniganj after he expressed his desire to go there and meet injured police officers. According to a statement from the governor’s press secretary, the state government said it would not be able to provide proper security to him.
The BJP, meanwhile, slammed Banerjee and accused her of “doing politics” in the national capital while while her state was “burning”. Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told reporters, “Peaceful Ram Navami processions were attacked by TMC ‘thugs’ in the state. Bengal is burning and Mamata is doing politics in Delhi. It is like Nero played the fiddle while Rome was burning.”— With inputs from ENS Kolkata, Lucknow