Two incidents of violence were reported from different parts of the state late on Sunday night in connection with fears about the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). While one clash broke out in Malda district, the other occurred in Hooghly.
The residents of two villages in Malda district’s Harishchandrapur block fought each other late on Sunday night after almost 12 people in one of the villages tested positive.
The 12 from Manikbari village, who are from a particular community, had returned from Ajmer in Rajasthan last Tuesday. After news spread about their infection, the residents of neighbouring Chandipur sealed their village with bamboo fences, sources said.
The people of Manikbari protested as they are dependent on the market in Chandipur for essentials. On Sunday morning, the residents of the two villages got into an argument over the restriction.
Late in the evening, a group of people from Mankibari allegedly attacked some people in Chandipur. They allegedly broke the bamboo fence and ransacked several homes. Several villagers were thrashed.
The police said six people had been arrested. “The situation is under control now. We are investigating the matter. Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in the area,” said a senior district police officer.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressed concern about the situation, and urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the police to take stern action against the guilty.
“Worrisome incident at Chandipur, PS Harischandrapur, district Malda calls for utmost restraint by all. Administration and police @MamataOfficial [Mamata Banerjee] must act detached with no political overtones and tone intelligence. Community leaders must come forward for promoting peace,” he tweeted late on Sunday night.
In another tweet, the Governor said any such “flare up” at a time the state is facing “unprecedented challenges” would not be in national interest. “Appeal @MamataOfficial to lead from the front and put on hold activities #TroikaMAP in the larger interest of State. Politics only post Covid-19.”
Trinamool Congress leaders were not available for comment.
The second clash of the night broke out between two groups in Bhadreswar in Hooghly district.
According to sources, five people from a particular community in the region’s Telenipara area had tested positive recently, and people there were seen roaming around freely. When a group protested, the clash erupted. Several houses in Telenipara were ransacked, and bombs were hurled. Several vehicles were vandalised, and some shops were set on fire.
A huge police contingent was deployed to bring the situation under control. The police have intensified patrolling, and arrested 36 people.
“Situation is absolutely under control. Area domination and route march is going on led by CP of Chandannagar police commissionerate Humayun Kabir. Around 36 persons have been arrested,” said Additional Director General (Law and Order) Gyanwant Singh.
On Monday, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee claimed she was stopped by the police from visiting the area. “The police are not taking action against people belonging to a particular community, while lockdown norms are strictly enforced on others. This is the true face of the Mamata Banerjee government,” she said.
In response, Trinamool Youth Congress’s district president Shantanu Banerjee accused the saffron party of politicising the incident.
“The police have controlled the situation and have taken all action against those involved in the incident. Mamata Banerjee government believes in law and order, and gives it priority without discriminating on the basis of caste, community, and religion,” he said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh condemned the violence in both Malda and Hooghly.
“Members of a particular community were tested positive. When police went to conduct further tests they protested. Even bombs were hurled at policemen and the incident took a communal colour. Shops and houses were ransacked. The state government must take immediate steps,” he said.
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