The district administration of Malda on Monday detained a BJP team that was heading for Kaliachak on a fact finding mission.
The BJP team has been put on board a Shatabdi Express train bound for Kolkata.
They will go back to Delhi and submit a report to the party leaders, said the BJP MP SS Ahluwalia.
The other MPs in the team were Bhupendra Yadav and Vishna Dayal Ram. Two representatives from Bengal, Krishanu Mitra and Joy Banerjee were also detained at Malda station.
They were locked in an argument with district magistrate and police super of Malda, Sharad Dwivedi and Prasun Banerjee who were trying to impress upon the opposition leaders that their presence in Kaliachak will fuel tensions and may lead to deterioration of the law and order situation.
“Due to the pressure of the state Government, district administration said section 144 is promulgated, you cannot enter that area,” said SS Ahluwalia.
“We were cordoned off the moment we got down from the train at Malda station around 6:30 am en route to Kaliachak. The DM and SP came to the station and told us that they won’t allow us to get out of the station, forget set foot in Kaliachak, where our presence may foment communal trouble. Now we have been forced on to a Kolkata-bound train,” Ahluwalia told HT.
‘’We were detained at Malda station about 35 kms away from Kaliachak. The DM and SP told us that they have restored law and order at the spot and it may be disturbed is we go there,’’ said Krishanu Maitra of the BJP media cell.
Watch | BJP fact-finding team hits out at Mamata Banerjee
On January 3, a crowd of thousands gathered at Kaliachak in Malda district (about 300 km from Kolkata) to organise a religious protest. The gathering soon turned violent with the agitators setting the police station on fire. A number of vehicles inside the police station campus were also set on fire.
The incident has triggered a storm in the country with BJP leaders accusing the Mamata Banerjee administration of abject surrender to the minorities and failure to tackle the situation with an iron hand. The cyber world, too, is alive with criticism.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already claimed that the vandalism unleashed on Kaliachak police station in Malda on January 3 was not a communal incident.
“It was a dispute between BSF and locals. State police, or the state government, were not involved in it. The police merely went to tackle the situation. It was not a communal incident,” said the chief minister on the sidelines of the Bengal Global Business Summit on Saturday.
This was the first comment of the chief minister after the Malda violence.
Senior BSF officials, however, differed with the chief minister’s contention.
“According to information I was provided by DIG, Malda, BSF, the last vehicle of our convoy that was coming from Cooch Behar and was passing through Kaliachak was attacked by the agitators, who pelted stones at the car. An officer and his security guard and the driver of the vehicle received mild injuries. The vehicle was also damaged. But on seeing the matter, a group of agitators immediately resisted those who were pelting stones at the car and allowed our vehicle to pass safely,” Sandeep Salunke, the IG BSF, told HT on Saturday.
On the other hand, during investigation, a section of Malda police found out that fake Indian currency note (FICN) smugglers and poppy cultivators took a big role in inciting the mob to attack the police station to keep the police under pressure.
“In the name of religion, the attack was orchestrated on the police station by FICN smugglers and poppy cultivators. A few months ago, too, Kaliachak police station faced an attack where these people organised it from behind,” said a senior officer of Malda district police.
On January 7, a BJP delegation from Bengal led by its lone MLA in the state, Samik Bhattacharya, was also arrested when they were going to Kaliachak. Bhattacharya was later released on a personal bond. ‘’The state secretariat has no control over places like Kaliachak and districts such as Malda,’’ Bhattacharya commented after the arrest.