BJP’s attempts to celebrate Hanuman Jayanti in a Trinamool citadel ended in violence on Tuesday.
Suri, the headquarters of Birbhum district and backyard of Trinamool’s heavy-weight leader Anubrata Mondal, turned into a battlefield as clashes broke out between the police and BJP supporters who took out a procession in the central part of the town.
The trouble first started early in the morning when police tried to stop the procession since it was being held without permission. Though the police finally allowed it, tension gripped the central bus stand area when participants in the rally allegedly thrashed a civic police volunteer for recording videos.
“Two civic police volunteers entrusted with recording the procession were dragged inside a BJP office and beaten up. We had to resort to lathicharge,” said a police officer.
The clashes continued for nearly an hour and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed to bring situation under control.
BJP strongly criticised the role of the police. While state president Dilip Ghosh accused Mamata Banerjee of running ‘Taliban Raj’ in the state, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said in Kolkata, “Such police attack on a peaceful procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti is unprecedented in the country.”
Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, has accused BJP of provoking communal tension. “BJP is bent on sparking communal tension but we will not let that happen,” party secretary general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee said.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh alleged the police intentionally denied permission on the eve of the event to discourage local people from taking part in the event. “The police acted under instruction from their political masters. There was no reason for them to deny permission,” said Ghosh.
“BJP members created the trouble. The police did the right thing,” said Anubrata Mondal, the district Trinamool chief who is known more for his controversial remarks. During the 2016 Assembly polls he was kept under round the clock surveillance by the Election Commission of India. Before that he made news for instructing party supporters to hurl bombs at the police if the latter assisted his political opponents.
Local people said that tension was brewing in the area over the past few days because a section of BJP workers demanded that the gate set up at the entrance to a mazar be demolished. Both Hindus and Muslims frequent the mazar.
In a bid to counter the BJP in parts of Howrah, Burdwan and Birbhum districts, Trinamool Congress leaders took out several Hanuman Jayanti processions. This was the first time ruling party leaders were seen celebrating Hanuman Jayanti. They celebrated Hanuman Jayanti the day BJP took out rallies on Ram Navami, displaying swords and traditional weapons.