A Facebook post about the Prophet and Kaaba Sharif at Mecca by a Class XI student has opened up a communal divide in Baduria in West Bengal since Sunday evening. The student, since detained and denying this claim by the police, put some sensitive images online triggering a spate of communal violence in the North 24 Parganas district with mob vandalising stores and houses and setting vehicles on fire, according to the Indian Express. There have been reports of police raids in many Hindu households, leading to people hitting the streets, angry at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led state government. Women and young girls had earlier locked themselves inside, fearing attacks, but have taken to brooms and sticks. A resident Sutapa Dey told the paper, “Our MLA, Dipendu Biswas, accompanied the police, making sure that our boys were picked up. When the Muslims attack us, the police just sit quietly, and if we do anything, they come and arrest us. Mamata was insulted just because the Governor said something that is right… what about us, are we not insulted.”
Near Ghari More in Basirhat, police were caught between two clashing mobs, several media persons were also attacked. Protesting resident Piyali Haldar said, “For the last three days, we have been enduring attacks by Muslims… Our shops have been looted. My family lost goods worth Rs 2.5 lakh… The police are raiding our homes to look for arms. Let them raid Muslim homes and see the cache of arms they bring from across the border.”
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A local religious leader and president of the All India Sunnat Al Jamayat, Abdul Mateen told the Indian Express that the discontent between the two communities was not there for generations but has only arrived with the presence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Add to that the recent cases of violence against Muslims across the country have made the Muslims insecure, he said. He also admitted that while the Facebook post case was open and shut on Sunday and the mob that came back on Monday was outsiders. According to the RSS workers, about 68 incidents of attacks by Muslims occurred on Monday involved arson and vandalism.
Subash Chandra Nath, an RSS functionary said, “Many of the areas here, such a Baduria, have a Muslim majority. And their numbers are growing because of the unchecked infiltration of Bangladeshis into the area. Yesterday, eight Bangladeshis were caught by residents and handed over to the BSF. They were carrying arms. In another incident, an ambulance was being used to transport bombs and arms.” According to the report, the 17-year-old boy hails from Baduria where there is only one BJP office and no other party offices, either of TMC or the CPI (M). The only Congress office was demolished two years ago.