As the West Bengal government struggles to restore peace in Darjeeling, violent clashes between two communities in North 24 Parganas district has put the state once again on boil. The clashes that broke out on Monday night prompted the Centre to rush 300 paramilitary personnel to the spot to pacify the situation. As a precautionary measure, section 144 was imposed in Basirhat and the state government was asked to submit a detailed report to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the violence. However, the war of words between Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee and Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has worsened the situation.
How the riots broke out
An objectionable Facebook post allegedly shared by a class X student on Monday is said to have triggered the communal clashes in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. While the police arrested the accused on the same day, dozens of shops and houses were vandalised by a mob. They also blocked roads and demonstrated in front of Baduria police station.
Protesters also torched police and government vehicles. North 24 Parganas Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Mukherjee was injured when a mob attacked him, according to a report in PTI. Announcements were being made using the public address system asking people to refrain from resorting to violence. Train services were also disrupted in several areas.
The violence which started in Baduria, around 70 kms from Kolkata, later spread to the other districts in the state. Schools and colleges were shut following the riots. Internet services were suspended in Baduria on Wednesday and section 144 was imposed.
Chief minister vs Governor
The communal clashes snowballed into a spat between Mamta Banerjee and Keshari Nath Tripathi. Banerjee alleged that she was threatened and “insulted” by the governor. She also accused him of acting in a partisan manner. “He is speaking like a block president of BJP,” Banerjee alleged. The TMC supremo also said that she even thought of quitting office over this “humiliation.” Criticising the governor for crossing the constitutional line, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien compared the Raj Bhawan to ‘RSS Shaakha.’ He also demanded action against the governor.
The Governor, however, rejected the charges. A statement from the press secretary to the governor said that Tripathi was “surprised at the attitude and language” that the chief minister had used. The statement added that nothing in the talks should have made Banerjee feeling “insulted, threatened or humiliated”.
BJP attacks Mamata govt, demands President rule
Meanwhile, BJP state in charge Kailash Vijayvargia alleged that over 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu families in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal and its offices at several places were set on fire. Accusing the state government of failing to tackle the situation, BJP State President Dilip Ghosh demanded President rule in the state. Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh for his intervention.
CPM accuses BJP of doing communal politics
The CPI-M said that the situation prevailing in West Bengal does not call for the imposition of President’s rule, but demanded immediate restoration of peace in the troubled areas of North 24-Parganas district. West Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose said that by demanding President’ rule in Bengal, the BJP and the RSS were only laying bare their game plan. “Steps should be taken to immediately restore peace in areas of North 24-Parganas district. But we don’t agree with what BJP has demanded regarding the imposition of President’s rule in Bengal. The situation doesn’t call for President’s rule. Such demands only show the game plan of BJP and RSS,” Bose told reporters.
MHA seeks reports
The Ministry of Home Affairs has meanwhile, asked the state government to submit a report on the situation. Rajnath Singh was also apprised by the governor about the clashes. The Home Minister has also reportedly asked the Chief Minister and Governor to resolve their difference and control law and order in the state.
Mamta Banerjee, meanwhile, has promised strict action against those who indulged in the violence. She also appealed to the citizens to maintain peace. “I condemn such violence. Despite the person (who made the Facebook post) being arrested, some people are still spreading violence. I appeal to both sides, please don’t do politics of riot.”