Communal clashes have broken out in North 24 Paraganas district of West Bengal over an “objectionable” post on Facebook, prompting the state government to rush 400 troops of paramilitary BSF today to assist the police in containing the situation. The violence between two communities at Baduria under Basirhat sub-division in the district started last night over the post following which a young man was arrested, the police said today. A violent mob put up road blockades at several places and attacked members of other community, besides destroying many shops, they said. There were no immediate reports of any casualty.
Shops were shut down in Baduria as tension prevailed there and spread to adjacent areas like Keosha market, Banshtala, Ramchandrapur and Tentulia, the police said. A senior Border Security Force (BSF) officer said four companies comprising 400 troops of the force’s South Bengal Frontier have been deployed in Bashirhat, Swarupnagar, Baduria and Devganga areas to assist the state police in containing the situation.
In an unprecedented move, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today accused Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi of “threatening” her over phone and said that he was acting like a “BJP block president”. “The way he spoke taking the side of the BJP, I felt insulted. I have told him that he cannot talk like this…He talked big on law and order. “I am not here at the mercy of anyone. The way he spoke to me, I once thought of leaving (the chair),” she said.
Condemning the riots, Banerjee said, “This is a serious issue, let me handle it seriously.” She said, “One person was arrested yesterday and there should not have been any further trouble after that. We were awake last night (to control it).” Banerjee said, “The ruling party at the Centre has an agenda. They have formed a ‘Gau Raksha group’ to kill people. A ‘hate group’ was formed to foment riots. Riots are taking place in the name of Hindu Samhati.”
The BJP alleged that over 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu families in North 24 Parganas district and its offices at several places were set on fire. Accusing the state police of failure to control the situation, party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is also in charge of the state, wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene in the matter.
“More than 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu families. Bombs went off at many places and information of Hindu sisters and daughters being raped have also been received. Local workers (of BJP) have said many facilities including five BJP offices were set on fire,” Vijayvargiya, who is based in Delhi, said. Banerjee said, “Someone had posted something objectionable on Facebook. He was arrested. Where is the fault of my government.”
The West Bengal government has dispatched a special team of the state police and Kolkata Police to the riot-hit area to monitor the situation. Official sources in Delhi said the clashes were triggered last evening over the Facebook post about a holy site. A demonstration was held in front of the Baduria police station by the people belonging to one community.
In an indirect reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit, Banerjee said, “He is going abroad to forge unity and the country is on fire. This must be stopped.” She said, “I told police yesterday to stop it. They should have blocked the Facebook account. But, how many Facebook accounts can be blocked? If the police had opened fire, 200 people would have been killed.”
The chief Minister appealed to top leaders of both the communities that her government would not tolerate “this hooliganism”. State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said if the governor asked her about the incident, where was the question of her being insulted.