A letter from Hindu Samhati to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanding a ban on slaughter of cows for four days during Durga Puja has attracted shrap criticism from Muslim leaders, including those belonging to BJP.
BJP’s minority cell chief Shakeel Ansari apprehended that such requests could be counter-productive. “They seem to have gone crazy. It is not done by BJP. How will a four-day ban be of any help? Most Hindus in West Bengal eat meat and fish. The Hindu Samhati people are unable to understand and we are not able to make them realise it,” Ansari said and added that such a demand only makes his job difficult and he would discuss the matter with state BJP president Rahul Sinha.
“I have been asked to create awareness among the Muslims in Bengal about the plans and programmes which the central government has embarked upon, but comments like these are posing as big impediments. Now, people question my intentions wherever I go… I will talk to the state party president about it. It will be impossible for BJP to form government in West Bengal without support from Muslims,” he said.
CPM leader Md Selim, however, suspected RSS role behind Hindu Samhati’s demand. Hindu Samhati founder Tapan Ghosh was once an RSS leader.
“This is not an overnight development. The Sangh parivar had been trying for Hindu-Muslim polarisation for quite sometime. They have no idea of the Hindu culture in West Bengal. During the puja, there is a beeline of Hindus in front of meat shops. They are out to destroy the communal harmony and I hope the state government instead of patronising them, would take firm steps to curb these attempts,” Selim said.
Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid who is considered close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, alleged that it was an RSS attempt to disturb communal harmony. “I will tell the CM that any such step would jeopardise the Hindu-Muslim unity and that attempts like these should be nipped in the bud,” he said.
Religious leader Qari Fazlur Rahman said, “They (RSS) are trying to gain sympathy and support of a particular section of society.”
Abdul Aziz, president of Milli Ittehad Parishad, said Hindu Samhati’s letter was an attempt to shift focus from the failure’s of the BJP government at the Centre. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come to power with a lot of assurances of good governance and development. But, that it is not happening. Now, they are trying to raise juvenile issues to divert attention of people. Our CM is also under a lot of pressure because of the CBI probe in to the multi-crore Saradha scam. But, if she gives in to the pressure and obliges the Hindu Samhati request, she will have to face the consequences in the forthcoming 2016 Assembly elections,” Aziz said.
Siddiqullah Chowdhury, general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind, too said it was a “childish request”. “Why should they decide what people will eat during pujas? There has been no Hindu-Muslim riot here and attempts like these are only spark one of those. Where will the beef steaks at five-star hotels come from during those days?” Chowdhury asked.
Shafique Qasmi, imam of Nakhoda Masjid, said that the media should also stay away from publicising these issues as it will only encourage the communal forces.