Home Minister Amit Shah calls out Bengal Governor over violence in Howrah
Home Minister Amit Shah tonight called on Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose and BJP Head of State Sukanta Majumdar to assess the law and order situation in the state after a clash erupted between two groups during a Ram Navami procession in Howrah on Thursday. A large contingent of police has been deployed to the area after a mob went wild, burning vehicles, throwing rocks and ransacking shops. Several police vehicles were also damaged in the incident.
The governor, who will soon visit areas affected by the riots, reportedly provided Mr Shah with details of the violence and the current situation on the ground.
Searches and raids have been carried out throughout the night in different pockets around Kazipara – the site of the unrest – and 36 people have so far been arrested in connection with the clashes. While the situation was largely peaceful in the district today, a new case of violence was reported in the locality of Shibpur, hours after the road where the incident occurred was opened to traffic .
The incident sparked a political tussle in the state, with the Trinamool Congress and the BJP blaming each other for the violence.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has ensured strict action against the culprits, has accused the BJP of allegedly trying to stir up communal tensions during the procession. She alleged that the BJP hired thugs from other states to orchestrate communal riots.
“Why did they change their route and take the unauthorized route to target and attack one community? If they think they will attack others and receive relief through legal interventions, they should know that people will reject them one day,” she said.
Abhishek Banerjee, considered Trinamool’s number two, has accused the BJP of inciting unrest. “How was a Ram Navami rally with guns and pistols?” he asked, playing videos that appeared to show a group of men participating in a rally with guns.
He also accused BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari of orchestrating the violence with the help of senior party brass. “He meets with the Union Home Secretary in Delhi and then goes back to Kolkata. He held a public meeting the next day and says watch TV tomorrow. The next day there are riots. PAA chronology samjhiye (Understand the timeline),” he alleged.
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee alleged ‘Bengal Hindus are under threat’ and accused Ms Banerjee, who is also the state’s home minister, of an appeasement policy.
“It is disheartening. Such visuals emerge from Bengal with every immersion of the idol of Ram Navami and Durga. It is not acceptable that the lives of Hindus in Bengal are under threat. Yesterday when there was violence in Howrah, Mamata Banerjee was sitting on a 30 hour dharna,” she said.
The BJP has also demanded an investigation by the NIA and the deployment of central forces to the affected areas through a petition to the High Court in Calcutta.
Bengal last saw communal riots during Ram Navami celebrations five years ago, a year before general elections.