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Bengal communal flare-up: Most affected areas limping back to normal

The administration finally got its grip on the violence that rocked West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district for the last three days. Baduria in Basirhat sub-division which seemed the worst hit, was calm on Thursday.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 14:16 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
A security patrol in Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Parganas district which was ricked by violence this week.
A security patrol in Basirhat subdivision in North 24 Parganas district which was ricked by violence this week.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Rocked by three days of violence after a controversial Facebook post by an eleventh standard student, Baduria was limping back to normal on Thursday as most of the shops and business establishments started functioning under the shadow of security patrols.

Vehicles, including private buses, also started plying. The Internet ban, however, continued. Schools also did not open and many students who went to school assuming they had opened, had to return home.

Residents explained the sudden change in mood to that fact that the violence was perpetrated mostly by outsiders.

“People, mostly ruffians, who live a few kilometres away went to other areas to create trouble, set shops and houses on fire. Once the police and paramilitary personnel established control, they quickly went away and locals felt relieved and came out on the streets on Thursday,” said Osman Gazi, a local of Baduria.

Baduria is the place where trouble began. Though prohibitory orders are still in force, by midday the scene on the roads almost began to resemble a normal working day.

The communal flare-up in areas such as Bashirhat, Baduria, Swarupnagar in North 24 Parganas district that border Bangladesh also triggered a spat between chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. While the chief minister accused the governor of working like a BJP worker, the governor alleged that she made wild accusations in order to divert the attention of the people from the law and order situation in the district.

“We are shocked by the outbreak of violence as we never witnessed any tension for decades when we lived next to each other,” said Kabir Mondal, a young man in Rudrapur of Baduria block.

Read more: West Bengal violence over FB post: Shops, schools shut in Basirhat, Mamata govt warns rioteers

The violence hit Rudrapur first on Sunday evening when a Muslim mob went on rampage and set ablaze the house where the student who allegedly posted blasphemous material on Facebook.

The student was arrested on Monday. But despite the spate of violence and arson that followed, no other were arrests were made.

There were no reports of violence from the areas in Basirhat where trouble had spread on Wednesday.

When this correspondent reached Magurkhali village where the student lived, villagers unanimously criticised his Facebook post, but they also condemned the violence that followed.

“When an angry mob of about 5,000 gathered to torch his house, locals from both communities tried to pacify them, but to no avail. The marauders told the local Muslims who went to pacify them to clear the way, otherwise their houses would be set on fire too,” said Sabir Mollah, another local.

On the roads and tea stall, locals of both communities were seen chatting together and not in isolated groups. “What you see today is the normal way of life here. What happened over the past three days was an aberration and shocking to us,” said Sheikh Shahnawaj who owns a tea stall at the Baduria crossing, an important junction.

Shahnawaj last opened his stall on Sunday. He could resume business only on Thursday.

“Muslims constitute more than 65%b of the local population. But if you come here during Durga Puja, you will be surprised to see the pomp of the community pujas. It only proves both Hindus and Muslims live in harmony,” said Ganesh Mondal, a local.