The anger of the Muslims against the state government in Bengal was waiting to burst out. That their target was the CPI(M) was clear from the fact that for the first time in three decades, agitating Muslims on Wednesday ransacked a party office in Beniapukur, not far from its headquarters at Alimuddin Street.
Agitators also shouted slogans against the media for mixing Nandigram with the agenda for Wednesday’s protests calling for revocation of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s visa.
Although no Left leader would admit as much, the involvement of the city police in the events leading to the death of Rizwanur Rahaman and the killing of Muslims in Nandigram had alienated a large section of Muslim youths from the Left Front.
But it all started after the firing in Nandigram, which has a strong Muslim population of about 71 per cent. The agitations in the trouble-torn area were so fierce and so anti-CPI(M) that even the police could not enter Nandigram for 11 months.
Muslim leaders like Siddikullah Chowdhury of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, who went into oblivion, repeatedly visited Nandigram and roused Muslim anger against the CPI(M) and the state government for taking away the lands of the poor.
The discontent spread in Kolkata too. The Taslima Nasreen issue was merely a pretext to give vent to the pent up anger over larger issues. And the anger prompted well known CPI(M) workers of the area to join the protests.
The CPI(M) is convinced about the instigation theory. But how could Muslims in the Left-ruled citadel of communal harmony get instigated so easily?
“Idris Ali, leader of the All India Minority Forum instigated the people. There were criminal elements in the crowd who started the violence. There was an attempt to show that Muslims have turned against the CPI(M)," party central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty told HT on Wednesday evening.
While Chakraborty’s claim could not be ruled out, police officials facing the mob had a different story to tell. “Many people who took part in the violence are known CPI(M) supporters. I can’t understand what prompted them to mix the two different issues," said an officer who was on duty at Park Circus.
“It is not true that Muslims have turned against our party. Muslims joined the Hindus in peace processions at Beniapukur just after the (Nandigram) violence,” Chakraborty said.