BJP workers clashed with police in several parts of the state over celebration of the groundbreaking ceremony of Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday. However, several BJP leaders performed pujas in their houses to mark the occasion amid a complete lockdown in the state in order to curb Covid-19 cases.
Clashes were reported from Kharagpur in West Midnapore district, Narayanpur in North 24 Parganas and Alipurduar town in North Bengal.
In Kharagpur, a scuffle broke out as policemen stopped a BJP workers’ procession. The police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the crowd. “Nearly nine BJP workers have been arrested for violating lockdown norms. Some policemen were also injured,” a senior police officer of the West Midnapore district said.
At New Town’s Narayanur area, BJP supporters alleged that TMC supporters fired shots at local residents while they were preparing for bhoomi pujan in the morning. Later, they protested in the area, following which police used force to disperse them.
“So far, 10 people have been arrested in this connection,” said a senior police officer.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “Some miscreants tried to disrupt the puja organised by local people. They said local TMC leader Tapas Chatterjee was behind it. We had been requesting the state government to change the date of the complete biweekly lockdown, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. When devotees of lord Ram wanted to celebrate the day in a small way in Bengal, they were stopped by police. The TMC government has deliberately disregarded the sentiments of the Hindus in the state.”
Denying allegations, TMC leader Chatterjee said, “The BJP was trying to disturb peace in the area, but local people stopped them. Dilip Ghosh is bringing outsiders into the area to foment tension.”
TMC MP Sougata Roy said, “Lord Ram belongs to all. The BJP is trying to show that it belongs only to them. This is not right. This occasion of bhoomi pujan definitely calls for celebration. But in the backdrop of the present crisis, people need to be cautious and take precautions.”
In Alipurduar town, BJP workers were stopped from organising a bhoomi pujan as complete lockdown was enforced. At Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, local BJP leaders were reportedly seen wielding swords while celebrating.
Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and BJP workers in Kolkata also celebrated the beginning of the Ram temple construction. Pujas were held in several areas, including Baghbazar and Burrabazar.
Defying lockdown norms, pujas were also offered in Kidderpore, Deodhar Street, Dum Dum and several other areas.
A huge contingent of police was deployed in Rajabazar area following complaints of miscreants hurling bricks and stones on people performing a puja.
Several state BJP leaders, including Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Subhas Sarkar, also offered prayers at their homes.
In many areas, TMC workers also organised “Ram puja”.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya condemned the arrest of BJP workers in Kharagpur. “Lord Ram is celebrated around the world. But @MamataOfficial government is insulting the beliefs of Hindus. Are we living in the land of sharia that we can’t celebrate Lord Ram in Bengal?” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Purnima Kothari whose brothers Ram and Sharad were killed in police firing in Ayodhya in 1992, said his life has come to full circle with the bhoomi pujan. The Kothari brothers had gone to Ayodhya from Kolkata as kar sewaks to participate in the Ram Temple movement.
“The sacrifice of my brothers has borne fruit at last. This is a moment of fulfilment for our family. My brothers could not be a part of this, but they would have been very proud today. This is just a beginning,” Purnima, who is in Ayodhya to witness the bhoomi pujan of Ram Temple, told The Indian Express over phone. She is attending the event as a guest of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar lit diyas at Raj Bhavan.
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