The unfazed BJP workers changed the venue from Baghbazar ghat in north Kolkata, the site of the Tarpan, to nearby Golabari ghat and performed the ritual on the eve of Mahalaya despite the city police's efforts to prevent the holding of the programme.
The BJP has been performing 'mass tarpan' since 2019 for party workers killed in political violence in West Bengal in the last few years. (Representational image)
The BJP performed ‘Shahid Tarpan’ for its slain activists at a ghat of the Ganga in the city on Wednesday, even as the Kolkata Police evicted scores of them triggering a political face-off between the ruling TMC and the saffron party.
The unfazed BJP workers changed the venue from Baghbazar ghat in north Kolkata, the site of the Tarpan, to nearby Golabari ghat and performed the ritual on the eve of Mahalaya despite the city police’s efforts to prevent the holding of the programme.
The Kolkata Police cited the prevailing COVID-19 situation for its action and dismantled a stage erected for the Shahid Tarpan.
The TMC and the BJP accused each other of trying to derive political mileage from a purely religious exercise and the issue snowballed into a major political row.
‘Tarpan’ is a Hindu ritual in which water is offered to the ancestors with prayers for peace to the departed souls.
“The BJP had not taken permission for the event. So we decided to stop the programme and dismantled the stage,” a police official said.
The city police put up barricades outside the Bagbazar Ghat to prevent BJP activists from entering the area.
The BJP countered the charge saying it had sent a mail to the Kolkata Police on Tuesday night informing it of the programme.
The development triggered a war of words between the BJP and the TMC who accused each other of communalising the issue.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was stopped by the police from participating in the event, accused the TMC government in West Bengal of working only for the benefit of the 30 per cent minority population of the state, leaving out the 70 per cent Hindus to “fend for themselves”.
He alleged the state administration tries to create obstacles for any programme or ritual related to Hinduism.
“The state government works only for the 30 per cent population (minorities) of the state. The remaining 70 per cent (Hindu population) are left to fend for themselves.
“Why is this government against Hinduism and its rituals? The police stopped our party workers from performing tarpan. Later, we had to organize it somewhere else,” he said.
Referring to the imposition of the state-wide lockdown on August 5, the day of bhoomi pujan at Ayodhya for the Ram temple, Vijayvargiya alleged the TMC government creates obstacles for any programme related to Hinduism.
“After we are voted to power in West Bengal next year, we will work for the entire population of the state and not just for a specific community,” he told reporters after being prevented by the police from entering Bagbazar Ghat.
Assembly election is due in West Bengal in April-May next year. Asked about the BJP not seeking prior permission, Vijayvargiya said the party had sent a mail to the police last night.
“Do we need permission to perform ‘tarpan’ for our slain workers? It is a Hindu ritual that is being performed for ages. But still, we had sent an email to the police last night seeking permission for the programme,” he said. Reacting to the allegation, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the BJP is trying to communalise the issue.
“No one was stopped from offering Tarpan. The police had stopped the congregation of BJP workers due to the pandemic and they had not taken any permission. “There is no restriction on performing Tarpan ritual. The BJP is spreading canards and trying to communalize the issue which they are very good at,” Chatterjee said.
The BJP has been performing ‘mass tarpan’ since 2019 for party workers killed in political violence in West Bengal in the last few years.
J P Nadda, the then BJP national working president, had performed ‘mass tarpan’ for slain party workers in September last year.