West Bengal violence: Rage, fear on either side of Basirhat divide

It’s a divide that has opened up since Sunday evening, after a Facebook post showing “objectionable images’’ which was widely circulated, following which a mob vandalised shops and homes, and set fire to vehicles, triggering retaliatory violence.

Written by Esha Roy | Basirhat/baduria | Updated: July 7, 2017 4:04 am
west bengal communal violence, basirhat protests, basirhat violence, baduria protests, curfew, amit shah, baduria clashes, centar Security forces in Basirhat on Thursday. Subham Dutta

Four days after communal violence first broke out in Baduria, in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said on Thursday that the “situation was under control’’. But on the streets, there was rage and fear on either side of the divide.

It’s a divide that has opened up since Sunday evening, after a Facebook post showing “objectionable images’’ linked to the Prophet and Kaaba Sharif at Mecca was widely circulated, following which a mob vandalised shops and homes, and set fire to vehicles, triggering retaliatory violence.

According to police, the Facebook post was put up by a Class XI student, who has since been detained and has denied putting it up.

While there were no reports of fresh clashes on Thursday, many Hindu residents hit the streets, after unconfirmed reports of police raids in their neighbourhoods.

The anger was targeted more at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the TMC-led state government than at mobs who are alleged to have vandalised shops and set vehicles on fire in a second round of violence on Monday evening.

Women and young girls who had locked themselves inside their homes, fearing more attacks, stormed out, wielding sticks and brooms.

One of them, Sutapa Dey, 54, was weeping. “My daughter just called from Moilakholay where she lives with her in-laws. They have picked up my son-in-law for no apparent reason. No one knows where he is now. What will my daughter do,’’ she cried.

“Our MLA, Dipendu Biswas, accompanied the police, making sure that our boys were picked up. When the Muslims attack us, the police just sit quietly, and if we do anything, they come and arrest us. Mamata was insulted just because the Governor said something that is right… what about us, are we not insulted,’’ she said.

Biswas, the TMC MLA from Basirhat, was unavailable for comment.

The protesters blocked roads with logs, and set tyres on fire. Near Ghari More in Basirhat, a police team was caught between two protesting mobs. Media teams were also attacked.

“For the last three days, we have been enduring attacks by Muslims… Our shops have been looted. My family lost goods worth Rs 2.5 lakh… The police are raiding our homes to look for arms. Let them raid Muslim homes and see the cache of arms they bring from across the border,’’ alleged Piyali Haldar, a resident.

“We have never ever seen anything like this before… If it wasn’t for us, Dipendu Biswas would never have become an MLA. And now he is picking up our boys, siding with the Muslims… I voted for the Trinamool in the last election. But never again,’’ said Sumanto Sarkar, another protester.

Local Muslim leaders said the discontent between the two communities, who have lived together in the area for generations, has been brewing for some time.

“The RSS never had a presence in this area earlier. But now, the presence of the RSS and BJP is increasing. This, along with incidents of violence against Muslims across the state and the rest of the country, has made the Muslim population insecure,” said Abdul Mateen, president of the All India Sunnat Al Jamayat and a local religious leader.

“On the other hand, the RSS and other forces have been instigating the Hindu community. The objectionable post put up by the 17-year-old boy was unacceptable. But he has been arrested. The matter was put to rest on Sunday night. We condemn the mobs who came back on Monday. Most of them are outsiders… we don’t know them,’’ he said.

RSS workers alleged that there were 68 incidents of attacks by Muslims, including arson and vandalism, on Monday evening. “Many of the areas here, such as Baduria, have a Muslim majority. And their numbers are growing because of the unchecked infiltration of Bangladeshis into the area. Yesterday, eight Bangladeshis were caught by residents and handed over to the BSF. They were carrying arms. In another incident, an ambulance was being used to transport bombs and arms,’’ alleged Subhash Chandra Nath, an RSS functionary in Basirhat.

At the Rudranagar main market in Baduria, where the 17-year-old hails from, the BJP opened its office one-and-a-half years ago. There are no other party offices in Rudranagar — either of the TMC or the CPI(M). There was a Congress office, but it was demolished two years ago. The local MLA, Kaji Abdul Rahim, is from the CPI(M)-Congress jote.

“Hindus are scared now. Whenever there is an issue, the Muslims don’t depend on the law, they resort to the strength of sheer numbers — like they did on Monday evening,’’ said Ram Prasad Thakur, 35, who is BJP in-charge in Rudrapur and a member of the Basirhat zilla parishad.

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    George Cruz
    Jul 9, 2017 at 5:50 am
    First of all these illiterate, worthless, illegal Bangladeshi Muslims have to realize that they are living in a democratic country like India and not in an Islamic Caliphate with theocracy and the Islamic ideologies of Jihad/sharia. To commit atrocities against the peaceful Hindus just because of objectionable Facebook Post is really outrageous. There is a saying in Tamil "one doesn't need a mirror to read the palm" is very true in the case of Muslims who are committing terror/killing based on the 7th century Islamic ideologies of Jihad/Sharia. The most of the blame goes to the TMC, the CPM, and the congress who have courting millions of illegal/worthless Bangladeshi Muslim junk into W.Bengal for vote bank without realizing that these Muslim junk don't understand democracy no to co-exist with peaceful Hindus. The wounds of the atrocities committed by the departing Muslims on peaceful Hindus in Calcutta during the 1947 haven't healed completely and now another outrageous atrocity
    1. S
      Sudheer Thaakur
      Jul 8, 2017 at 10:51 pm
      sorry but serves bengal hindus right. if u vote wrong u pay the price.
      1. D
        Dr.Mohammed Mudassir Ahmed
        Jul 8, 2017 at 6:36 pm
        1. D
          Dr.Mohammed Mudassir Ahmed
          Jul 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm
          I am a Indian and Muslim by religion...felt very bad by this incident... I appeal all Muslim brothers and Hindu brothers to be calm and stay united...Islam doesn't teaches violence nor Our Prophet(pbuh) supported violence..A true Muslim believes in love and peace..I also strongly oppose the other incidents of mob lynchings by gau rakshaks... Whatever the religion is We don't have any rights to take law in our hands.PLEASE STOP SHEDDING BLOOD IN THE NAME OF RELIGION...UNITY IS THE NEED OF THIS HOUR....Jai hind..
          1. S
            Sameer Das
            Jul 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm
            So, BJP and RSS seems to be the root cause of the growing communal malice in Bengal. They are spreading like epidemic in our country. I wish Bengalis will be immune to this infection ultimately.
            1. X
              Jul 8, 2017 at 8:51 pm
              Really. Illegal bangladeshi muslims are flooding across the Border. TMC has maintained the Left front tradition of assisting them to get voter cards. Muslim terrorists are making bombs in safe houses and attacking and burning police stations. The local robbers now employ bangladeshi gangs on contract basis to commit dacoities for a fixed fee. And to maintain the TMC vote bank the government is directing the craven police to take the side of the muslims. These are the root cause. I am an ex supporter of BJP and criticise them equally. But bengalis always make the wrong choice and elect the wrong leaders. There is a saying people deserve the government they elect. Bengalis are a perfect example. I as a bengali wish we use commonsense and logic instead od wallwing in "culture' or past 'glories.
            2. K
              Karan Kadam
              Jul 8, 2017 at 7:05 am
              Ek aur kashmir baney wala hai WB mai
              1. A
                Jul 8, 2017 at 3:55 am
                So here's the method of madness of BJP-RSS to communaly divide people and get votes of hindu majority in non BJP ruled states Step 1: Get someone to put up a provocative (often morphed) picture on Facebook Step 2: Amplify the rumour-mongering through digital media and word-of-mouth -RSS paid trolls like L. bhadra devi, geroge cruz, rishi, kris etc are used for this action Step 3: Spread propaganda through mouthpieces masquerading as news channels and independent journalists Step 4: Get party politicians to jump in and validate the digital dirt as if it were really happening so the communal riot is created and create fear among the hindu community so that they vote for BJP for their protection from muslims ! They couldnt do it yet in educated state like kerala even though they tried their best to use all the tricks in Sanghi crooked book !! My advise to muslims is not react to any face book post and rumours and jump into street to take revenge which inturn will back fire on you!!
                1. R
                  Raj Parwani
                  Jul 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm
                  The boy who posted the pictures saying he didn't do it, I am sure it's a work of BJP/RSS in the area, they wanted this kind of violence so they could win a lot of seats in next election, please investigate and find out which member of RSS hacked the facebook account of this boy just to start communal violence. BJP and RSS breath on hate, if there is no hate there is no BJP, they need Hindu dead bodies to get their politics going.
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