Centre seeks report from Bengal govt on Raniganj violence
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Centre seeks report from Bengal govt on Raniganj violence

A man was killed and several injured after a BJP-organised Ram Navami procession allegedly tried to enter a Muslim-dominated locality in Raniganj on March 25. Two others lost their lives in the following days.

kolkata Updated: Mar 28, 2018 22:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Raniganj,Communal violence,West Bengal
Police personnel patrol the streets after clashes erupted during a Ram Navami procession in Raniganj on Monday. (PTI File)

The Centre has sought a report from the West Bengal government on a communal flare-up that occurred during a Ram Navami procession in Raniganj, West Burdwan district, three days ago.

The query followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephonic conversation on the issue with Babul Supriyo, Asansol Lok Sabha MP and minister of state for heavy industries, on Wednesday morning.

A man was killed and several injured after the BJP-organised procession allegedly tried to enter a Muslim-dominated locality in Raniganj on March 25. Two others lost their lives in the following days. The district administration has imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in the area, and deployed police as well as Rapid Action Force personnel to prevent further violence.

Supriyo said he has briefed Union home minister Rajnath Singh on the matter too. “The Centre has offered to send additional forces,” he told mediapersons.

The state government, however, accused the Asansol MP of painting an inaccurate scenario before the Centre. “The state administration is handling the situation efficiently,” said education minister Partha Chatterjee.

A senior bureaucrat in the Bengal government confirmed the receipt of the central query, but described it as a “routine” affair. “The Union home ministry has sought a report from the state on the steps taken by the state administration in Raniganj. It also wants information on the action taken against those involved in the clashes,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

Partha Chatterjee, Trinamool Congress secretary general and state education minister, downplayed the need for deployment of central forces. “It’s up to the chief minister to take a decision on the matter. We have handled difficult situations in the past too,” he said.

Supriyo had earlier accused law-enforcement agencies of doing nothing when “goons went on the rampage” in his constituency. “The most alarming fact is that the WB police remained inactive and far away from the spots. And, as the videos will prove, residents are alleging that police did not respond or take calls,” he alleged on Twitter.

The Asansol MP also claimed on the micro-blogging site that “dozens of goons from the minority community” came in matadors and cars to vandalise and burn down shops. They “pulled Hindus out of their houses and brutally assaulted them” with sharp weapons, he added.

The Raniganj scenario

The situation in Raniganj remained tense for the second day despite an abatement of violence. Police continued to patrol largely deserted streets even as banks functioned through partially opened shutters. “The situation is under control but we are not taking any chances,” said Asansol-Durgapur police commissioner LN Meena.

A police team led by Kolkata additional commissioner Vineet Goyal is being dispatched to ensure peace in Asansol. It will also have three IPS officers.

While chief minister Mamata Banerjee maintains that saffron activists triggered violence in the state, BJP leaders have accused police of allowing people from the minority community to attack them.

Meanwhile, police arrested Sajal Mitra, town committee president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, on charges of bearing arms during the event. Following that, members of his organisation met Bengal governor Kesari Nath Tripathi to hand over a memorandum demanding the release of saffron activists held by police, action against those guilty of perpetrating violence, and the provision of monetary aid to Hindu families that suffered losses, among other things.

In another development, Tripathi cancelled a plan to visit injured people admitted to the Durgapur hospital following a request from the authorities. “I will interact with the state government separately,” the governor told mediapersons later.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 22:09 IST