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After the riots: Basirhat plans gala Rakhi, I-Day celebrations for harmony

Local Muslim leaders will also celebrate Independence Day with much fanfare to promote “love for the nation” among community members.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2017 18:18 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Basirhat, Hindustan Times
Basirhat,Basirhat riots,Rakhi
A man was killed and properties worth lakhs were either burnt or vandalised between July 2 and 5, after a Class 11 student put up a blasphemous Facebook post.(HT Photo)

It’s been a month since the communal flare-up in Basirhat, and the local administration is doing its best to bridge the trust deficit that led to the violent showdown between its Hindu and Muslim communities.

For a start, it plans to celebrate Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day with greater fervour than ever before.

The Basirhat civic body has joined hands with local MLA Dipendu Biswas to put up a number of banners urging residents to celebrate Raksha Bandhan as an occasion of communal harmony on August 7.

“The Basirhat municipality has always celebrated Raksha Bandhan, but this time it will be a big event focusing on localities with a mixed population. I will organise a similar event as well,” said Biswas.

Local Muslim leaders will also celebrate Independence Day with much fanfare to promote “love for the nation” among community members.

A man was killed and properties worth lakhs were either burnt or vandalised between July 2 and 5, after a Class 11 student put up a blasphemous Facebook post. The violence originated in Baduria, and soon spread to Basirhat. Muslims constitute over 65% of the population in both the places.

“Things are normal now, but we all know how destructive the clashes were. This is why local officials, politicians and community leaders are working together to ensure that neither Muslims nor Hindus resort to violence even when there are provocations,” said Abu Ishaq Ghazi, a Congress councillor from the Basirhat municipality.

Forces deployed in Basirhat after violence in the area in July. (Samir Jana/HT file)

On July 29, over 200 Muslim leaders gathered at the residence of Pirzada Sarful Amin – a local community head – for charting ways to prevent such flare-ups in the future. It was decided at the meeting that if community leaders were to learn about any troubling matter, they should take it to administrative officials instead of the easily angered public.

A meeting of local Hindu priests and religious leaders has also been planned.

However, despite his optimistic outlook, Baduria civic chief Tushar Singha has not been able to dispel apprehensions of the upcoming Eid, Durga Puja and Muharram festivals turning restive.

“The mutual trust we Hindus and Muslims once enjoyed has taken a beating. Restoring it will not be easy, especially since tell-tale signs of the clashes are still visible. The damaged shutters of shops and broken windowpanes around us constantly remind us of what happened last month,” said Abdul Matin, head of the All India Sunnat al Jamaat. The administration must ensure the involvement of both the communities in restoring the damaged property and issuing compensation, he added.

Tarun Mukherjee, who owns a grocery store in Basirhat, believes the damage is not as physical as it’s psychological.

“Things may look alright from the outside, but the people who faced violence during the riots still harbour many grievances against members of the other community,” he told HT. “Rebuilding mutual trust may take time, but the government can help heal some of the wounds by compensating those affected by the violence.”

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 18:16 IST