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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day after section 144 was lifted: Normalcy returns to riot-hit Asansol

Asansol Mayor Jitendra Tiwari announced compensation for victims of the communal clashes and said a committee has been set up to conduct a survey and pinpoint houses which had been damaged.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Asansol | Published: April 4, 2018 5:19:51 am
communal violence in west bengal, ram navmi clashes, asansol violence, indian express, kolkata, Kolkata news, india news, latest news A market in Asansol on Tuesday. (Express Photo: Subham Dutta)

Normalcy returned to Asansol on Tuesday, a day after the state government lifted prohibitory orders from the riot-hit region. However, internet services remained suspended.

Asansol Mayor Jitendra Tiwari announced compensation for victims of the communal clashes and said a committee has been set up to conduct a survey and pinpoint houses which had been damaged.

“We have decided to grant Rs 2 lakh to family members who lost their near and dear ones. We have also decided to pay Rs 10,000 initially to those who had their houses damaged. We have already formed a committee, which has initiated a survey from today to assess how many houses have been damaged,” Tiwari told The Indian Express.

“In case of deaths during the riots, we will follow the list which will be forwarded by police. Police have recovered a body and investigation is on,” he added.

The state government lifted Section 144 of the CrPC on Monday night, days after communal clashes erupted during Ram Navami processions held in Ranigunj on March 26 and Asansol on March 27. Mahesh Mondal (42), a porter, died during the first clash, while the second claimed the life of Sibtulla Rashidi (16), the son of a local imam.

“The situation is under control and therefore we had decided to revoke imposition of Section 144 since last night. However, internet clampdown will continue,” said L M Meena, Commissioner of Police, Asansol.

Even as prohibitory orders were lifted, “peace rallies” were taken out in various parts of Asansol. By Tuesday, markets were bustling with activity and vehicles were plying the roads once more. However, police forces were deployed in badly-hit areas such as Ram Krishna Dangal Para, O K Road and Sreenagar to avert any mishap.

“Today, I opened my shop and I don’t have time to speak. It was horrific the past few days. I lived in one of the worst-hit areas in Chandmari. I had to flee with my family on March 28, a day after a Ram Navami rally was taken out in my locality. My family returned today and I opened my shop in the market area,” said Vijay Thakur (45), a barber whose shop is part of the main Asansol market.

“Parts of my home have been ransacked. I will shortly have to talk to some masons to repair my house. I need a new door and new window panes,” he added.

For 35-year-old Md Qamar, who owns fruit shop in the same market, the lifting of Section 144 CrPC comes as a welcome relief.

“I deal with perishable items like fruits. If my shop is closed for many days, I would not only lose business, but all my stocks of fruits will be gone. I have never seen such a situation in Asansol. But now, there is an uneasy calm. I hope no further flare-up occurs. It hurts everyone, be it Hindu Muslim or Christian,” he said.

With many shops opening for the first time since the imposition of prohibitory orders, markets were flooded by locals looking to stock up on essentials.“I had more customers than usual. People of all communities thronged my shop… Everyone has exhausted the little supplies they had at home,” said Rakesh Dubey, who owns a grocery shop near Asansol North police station.

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