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One dead, six cops injured in clashes in Bengal over Ram Navami processions

The clashes have taken place despite chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s order to the police to deal strictly with trouble mongers.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2018 20:02 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
West Bengal,Ram navami processions,Communal clashes
VHP supporters during a religious procession to celebrate Ram Navami at Bhowanipore area in Kolkata, on March 25, 2018.(Samir Jana/HT Photo)

The fallout of Ram Navami processions in West Bengal rocked Raniganj, 200 km northwest of Kolkata on Monday as communal clashes erupted leaving a VHP supporter dead and six policemen injured while the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP continued to trade charges.

Deputy commissioner of Asansol Durgapur, Arindam Dutta Choudhury sustained serious injuries in his right hand when a bomb was thrown at him in Raniganj in West Burdwan district. He was rushed to a hospital for surgery. Doctors said the police officer suffered multiple fractures and critical muscle injury in his right forearm.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) south Bengal general secretary Jishu Basu said in the evening that Chhote Yadav, 35, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad worker was killed in the clash. The police, however, did not confirm the death.

Ranigunj mayor and Trinamool leader Jitendra Tiwari said some groups were spreading rumours and appealed for calm. “Please don’t believe whatever people tell you. Apply your judgement. The administration is trying its best to control the situation,” Tiwari said.

Five other policemen were also injured when they were attacked as they rushed to break up a fight. Police vehicles were damaged in the clash. Fire engines had to be deployed after several shops were set ablaze.

“The situation in now under control. Policemen were attacked when they rushed to the spot to control the situation,” said Laxmi Narayan Meena, police commissioner of Asansol Durgapur.

Hindutva groups insist that they were attacked first.

“A clash broke out when Muslims attacked the procession organised by Bajrang Dal and associate groups on Monday morning. Bombs and stones were hurled at us,” alleged Sourish Mukherjee, spokesperson of the VHP.

“We were attacked by another community in the morning. The situation is tense,” said Manish Sharma, a BJP leader of Raniganj.

While Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked the police to strictly deal with those who were trying to create mischief, CPI (M) state secretary Suryakanta Mishra alleged the ruling Trinamool Congress was responsible for ushering in competitive communalism in the state.

Clashes also broke out between the police and Hindutva supporters in Kandi of Murshidabad district where police caned a group of people in a procession after they attacked the Kandi police station with bricks and stones around 10 am.

The procession started at 8:30 am from a spot in front of a Radha Govinda temple in Kandi and proceeded through the town before it reached the police station about 90 minutes later.

“Our procession started from the Radha Govinda temple. We had taken permission for it. But on the way some Trinamool supporters carrying weapons entered the procession and when the rally reached a point in front of the police station, they began throwing stones, triggering caning by the police. Four of our supporters had to be hospitalised and 50 others were injured,” claimed Iman Kalyan Mukherjee, a local BJP leader.

Local Trinamool MLA Apurba Sarkar said no Trinamool supporters were involved in the procession.

The sub divisional police officer of Kandi also said that there was no permission was taken for the procession.

“The administration should take action if there is trouble. But how did police fail to anticipate violence? What were they doing when the procession that had taken permission was attacked (in Kandi)?” remarked state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

On Sunday S K Sajahan, 50, was killed and five others injured in a clash between police and Bajrang Dal activists in Purulia district over an armed procession.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 20:02 IST