New Delhi/Kolkata [India], April 1 (ANI): The BJP and Trinamool Congress engaged in a war of words on Friday over violence in Howrah during Ram Navami celebrations with West Bengal government handing over the probe to Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose and took stock of the situation in Howrah where violence broke out. Shah also talked with West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar and enquired about the law and order situation in the state.
Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari on Friday filed a PIL in Calcutta High Court seeking a NIA probe into the matter and immediate deployment of Central Forces in the violence-affected areas.
Sukanta Majumdar also wrote to Amit Shah seeking National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into violence in Howrah during Ram Navami celebrations.
Amid the political furore, Mamata Banerjee government on Friday handed over the probe into Howrah violence to Criminal Investigation Department (CID). A special team led by Inspector General of Police, CID Sunil Choudhury has initiated the investigation.
The situation turned violent in Shibpur area of Howrah on Friday. Fresh violence broke out on Friday a day after arson on Ram Navami.
Several vehicles were set on fire earlier on Thursday after two groups clashed in Howrah amid Ram Navami celebrations. During the procession, the rioters vandalized public and private properties and set vehicles on fire.
West Bengal Police on Thursday conducted a flag march in Howrah where violence broke out during a Ram Navami procession.
The state Governor said in a press release that strict and decisive action will be taken to prevent recurrence of such criminal intimidation.
He said the State Government has been directed to ensure that fool-proof arrangements are made to maintain law and order effectively and action taken against miscreants firmly.
The Governor said he had a confidential discussion with the Chief Minister to review the situation.
"The State Government was directed to ensure that fool-proof arrangements are made to maintain law and order effectively and action taken against miscreants firmly. The Chief Minister assured that strict and decisive action will be taken to prevent recurrence of such criminal intimidation," the release said.
"Close on heels of this, the home secretary called on the Governor and assured compliance. Governor called for a compliance report in the matter. Governor ordered real time monitoring of the situation by Raj Bhavan and constituted a special cell for the same," it added.
The Governor said those who resort to violence "under the illusion that they can hoodwink the people will soon realise they are in a fool's paradise".
He said there will be effective and concerted action to book the culprits and bring them before the law.
"Setting fire to public property, that too on the sacred Ram Navami day, is a highly provocative act and will be viewed seriously. Hanuman set fire to Lanka to uphold Dharma. Those who resort to fire for Adharma will be made to swallow the fire themselves or those who are mandated to douse the fire, will do it decisively," the release stated.
Ananda Bose added that Bengal stands united against the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity.
."Trouble makers and abettors will be made to realise that they cannot play Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde in Bengal anymore. Police should be objective, strong and fair, and should not let down their masters and the peace-loving people."The release said that Raj Bhavan will keep its "eyes and ears" open to ensure protection to the life, property and dignity of the common man.
BJP leaders strongly attacked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the violence.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani alleged that Mamata Banerjee had given clean chit o stone pelters.
"Stone pelting happened during Ram Navami's procession in Howrah. Mamata Bandopadhyay (Banerjee) gave a clean chit to stone pelters. The question is how long will Mamata Bandopadhyay keep attacking the Hindu community," she said.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur also slammed the Trinamool Congress government over the violence.
"During Mamata Banerjee's rule, journalists were attacked, stone pelting was done during Ram Navami processions. If journalists are becoming victims of violence and the State government remains a mute spectator, what can be more shameful than this? The more it is condemned, the less it is..." Thakur said.
Sukanta Majumdar alleged that Trinamool supremo "orchestrated the violence for Muslim votes.""Mamata Banerjee orchestrated this entire violence. Mamata Banerjee has done this work to concentrate the Muslim votes because her Muslim votebank shrank in the by-election. So she resorted to this," Majumdar told ANI.
He said West Bengal BJP has given a timeframe to the police in this matter to solve the case.
Majumdar said if the West Bengal Police is unable to solve this matter, then BJP will raise this issue politically.
"There have been reports of blasts in some places, so I have written a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding NIA investigation and Central Force deployment in this matter," Majumdar said.
Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee hit back at the BJP and accused it of "spoiling" the atmosphere in the state and creating "enmity" among the people.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Abhishek Banerjee, said, "For the past few days, there have been attempts to disrupt the peace and harmony in Bengal. We have appealed to everyone to maintain peace and order".
"Despite that, a political party, for nurturing its politics, despite having no police permission, vehemently took out the procession on a route where issues happened last year as well," he alleged.
During the press conference, the TMC MP also showed videos, where some people with 'saffron' flags and were chanting slogans.
"People were carrying guns and swords in the Ram Navami procession. Shops and materials of small vendors were vandalised. What form of a procession is this? Insanely playing DJ and worshipping Ram is which ritual? We have lived in Bengal for so long, never seen anything like this. I might be lying, but these videos won't lie," he alleged.
"Such incidents didn't happen in the 2011-2016 period. It started after they (BJP) came in power at the Centre and won three seats in the Bengal Assembly. They started treating the whole state as their personal property. Creating enmity among people of different communities, forcefully imposing their culture on the people of Bengal and shamelessly reaping political fruits out of it," he added.
The TMC leader "challenged" BJP for arrest of those seen indulging in violence in the videos.
"I am clearly saying here that those who have done violence, whether they are from any religion, or political party, strict action will be taken against them. But I would like to challenge BJP if any of their leaders come and says on record, that they want those people under arrest who are seen setting properties of poor people on fire and dancing with weapons. I challenge them. Our Chief Minister has appealed to people to keep harmony, but has the BJP leader given any statement even after 24 hours?" Banerjee said.
He alleged that the incidents of violence were "pre-planned" in nature."This was pre-planned. From Shyambazar, a BJP leader was saying to keep eye on TV. Why? There was no reply to Howrah Police Commissionerate regarding details of permission copy, the exact number of participants and exact beginning and end of the rally. They did not submit any documents but started taking out a procession on the route which was not permitted," he added.
The TMC leader added that if there is any lapse on the police side, they will be booked and action will be taken against them.
In his letter to Amit Shah, Majumdar sought National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into violence in Howrah.
"It is always my privilege to write to you, especially concerning about the affairs of my state. But unfortunately this time I am forced to write about the orchestrated attack on the Processions of Ram Navami in various parts of West Bengal like Howrah, Dalkhota. In Howrah it took ugly turn with bombs and stones thrown on the procession inspite of taking prior permission from police by submitting route map," he said in the letter.
"It is our firm belief that the whole incident was pre-planned by the unfolding of events with first statement coming from none other than the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on March 29 that strict action will be taken against the Processions of Ram Navami if there is any untoward incident. And finally before any investigation, she has given the statement that provocation was done from the processions, ie the Hindu side and there is the involvement of BJP, therefore strict action will be taken against them," he added.
Majumdar said when BJP MP and former Minister Debasree Chaudhury went to visit the affected area in Dalkhola, she was stopped by the police which proves the pre determined mindset of the State government.
"After the loss of Minority dominated Sagardighi Assembly seat in the by-election, which came as a shocker to the ruling party, we believe that a conspiracy was hatched using the Ram Navami occasion only to get back the minority vote by indulging into communal politics and attacks and overlooking the involvement of anti-national forces who are going to be encouraged. Therefore, it is my request to order an impartial inquiry involving Central agencies like NIA as done in Mominpur (Kidderpore) to actually nab the culprits and not innocent Hindus or any people who might be framed for their political cause," Majumdar said.
Suvendu Adhikari on Friday filed a PIL in Calcutta High Court seeking a NIA probe into the violence.
The Acting Justice of Calcutta High Court granted leave to file the PIL and directed the same to appear at top of the list on Monday, April 3.
"I have filed a Public Interest Litigation today in the High Court at Calcutta pertaining to the incidents of violence and attack on the Ram Navami processions at Howrah and Dalkhola. I have prayed for NIA probe and immediate deployment of Central Forces in such areas for containing the situation and restoration of Law and Order situation as well as for saving innocent lives. The Acting Chief Justice has been pleased grant leave to file the PIL and directed the same to appear on Monday at top of the list," Adhikari said on Twitter.
Earlier he met the injured of Howarh violence in Hospital. The BJP leader alleged that West Bengal Police acted as mute spectator when houses were vandalised during the violence.
"Police are not doing its work. They are silent spectators. They are not doing anything. All houses of Hindus have been vandalised. All Hindus in Kazipara area had to flee to save their lives," Adhikari told reporters here.
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said that the lives of Hindus in the state are "under threat".
"It is disheartening. Such visuals emerge from Bengal every Ram Navami and Durga idol immersion. It is not acceptable that the lives of Hindus in Bengal are under threat. When there was violence in Howrah yesterday, Mamata Banerjee was sitting on a 30-hour Dharna,"Chatterjee told ANI.
The BJP MP accused Banerjee of appeasement politics and demanded her resignation.
"What did she say? Muslims live nicely during Ramzan. Is this an example of that? She is with Muslims for vote bank and appeasement politics. Law and order situation in the state is worse. She should resign. She is the Chief Minister as well as Home Minister and she is unable to stop this. This has been happening one after the other...This should be probed by National Investigation Agency (NIA)," Chatterjee added. (ANI)