The district administration of Malda prevented a five-member BJP team and a CPI(M) MP from entering Kaliachak on Monday, stating that their presence could jeopardise the fragile peace in the communally volatile zone.
While the BJP team – including MPs SS Ahluwalia, Bhupendra Yadav and Vishna Dayal Ram – were rounded up when they alighted from a train in Malda on Monday morning, CPI(M) MP Mohammad Salim was intercepted by police officers at Amriti while he was being driven down that afternoon.
On January 3, thousands of Muslims had gathered at Kaliachak in Malda district to protest against an alleged hate speech delivered by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari. However, matters took a violent turn and the agitators set a police station on fire.
Speaking on how he was not allowed into Kaliachak, Ahluwalia said, “Due to pressure from the state government, the district administration said Section 144 has been promulgated. We could not enter the area.”
Krishanu Mitra, a state BJP leader who accompanied Ahluwalia, seemed furious. “Will Mamata Banerjee decide who will go where?” he asked.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had claimed on Saturday that the attack on the Kaliachak police station was not a communal incident, but a dispute between BSF personnel and local residents. The BJP, however, rejected the explanation and accused Banerjee of pursuing vote bank politics.
BJP secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said the purpose behind the violence was to destroy all the records related to a fake currency racket that was kept in the police station. “We will meet the home minister to seek a probe, and also the President…” he said.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Communal menace can clearly be seen in the state, and it is a matter of concern. The state government is justifying that menace. It shows how far they can go for some votes.”
The ruling Trinamool Congress, in its response, accused the BJP of trying to polarise voters before the assembly polls in April. “It is a poor attempt by the BJP to turn it into a communally insensitive narrative,” said Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien.
Meanwhile, certain that it will not get a state venue for a rally by Union minister Nitin Gadkari on January 18, the Malda district BJP is looking at renting privately owned grounds for the event. “We are looking for a privately owned ground. The Malda district magistrate assured us on January 7 that he will permit us to organise our rally in the heart of the city… However, on the evening of January 10, he told us that he can’t do it,” said Ajay Ganguly, a BJP leader.