POLITICS

'The Governor Threatened Me', Says Mamata, After Violence Over 'Blasphemous' Facebook Post In West Bengal

Muslims mobs resorted to violence after Facebook post by Hindu boy allegedly insulted a religious site.

05/07/2017 9:57 AM IST | Updated 05/07/2017 2:42 PM IST
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Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, calls emergency meeting to address the Darjeeling issue at State secretariat office Nabanna on June 17, 2017 in Kolkata.

(UPDATES WITH SITUATION ON WEDNESDAY)

As many as four companies comprising 400 troops paramilitary troops of the Border Security Force were rushed to the North 24 Parganas in West Bengal after violent communal clashes broke out over a Facebook post by a Hindu boy that Muslims found blasphemous. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that a riotous mob of 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu homes, set up blockades, and torched its offices in Baduria under Basirhat sub-division on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a 48-hour curfew was imposed in Basirhat and the situation remained "tense but under control". PTI reported that no untoward incident was reported till 11 am and announcements were being via the public address system asking people to maintain law and order.

Local train services were affected in Sealdah-Bangaon section as people squatted on the tracks at Duttapukur and Ashokenagar stations. A pair of trains plied from Basirhat station in the morning hours after which services were disrupted due to demonstration there, GRP sources told PTI.

Most of the shops, markets remained shut in and around Baduria including Keosha market, Banshtala, Ramchandrapur and Tentulia, and schools remained shut. BSF personnel cleared roads after removing the blockades put up by a mob.

The student of Class X, who put up the allegedly blasphemous post, has been arrested. Paramilitary troops were deployed in Bashirhat, Swarupnagar, Baduria and Devganga areas.

'The Governor Threatened Me'

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi of "threatening" her over the phone and acting like a "BJP block president". "The governor cannot threaten me like this.... He called me on my phone and threatened me," she told reporters at Nabanna, the state secretariat.

A statement from the Governor's house said: "The Hon'ble Governor did say to the Hon'ble Chief Minister to ensure peace and law and order by all means. The Hon'ble Governor always holds the persons, who occupy the Constitutional positions, in high esteem." Tripathi also spoke to Home minister Rajnath Singh on the issue.

Banerjee said she was so insulted by the way Tripathi spoke to her, she contemplated resigning.

"I have told the Hon'ble governor that 'you cannot talk to me like this'. The way the governor is speaking, it seems that the BJP block president is speaking."

"I have told the Hon'ble governor that 'you cannot talk to me like this'. The way the governor is speaking, it seems that the BJP block president is speaking.... After this insult, I had myself thought that I would resign. I have never been insulted in this way in my whole life. I'm really sorry if I have hurt anybody because of what I said. I apologise for that. But my conscience was extremely hurt today. I have not sat on this chair just for the sake of it. I work hard to accomplish whatever I can," Telegraph quoted her as saying.

"This is a serious issue, let me handle it seriously," she added.

In a PTI report, Banerjee is quoted as saying that the "ruling party at the Centre has an agenda. They have formed a 'Gau Raksha group' to kill people. A 'hate group' was formed to foment riots. Riots are taking place in the name of Hindu Samhati."

In a letter to Singh, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is also in charge of WB, wrote: "More than 2,000 Muslims attacked Hindu families. Bombs went off at many places and information of Hindu sisters and daughters being raped have also been received. Local workers (of BJP) have said many facilities including five BJP offices were set on fire."

Four Vishwa Hindu Parishad members — Sanjay Goswami, Rajarshi Lahiri, Suraj Poddar and Surojit Biswas —were arrested, the Indian Express reported.

Muslims held a demonstration in front of the Baduria police station, according to a PTI report.

The BJP has time and again accused Mamata-led Trinamool Congress of appeasing Muslims for vote-bank politics, a charge denied by her and her party.

"Who all are the people who egged on a 17-year-old to post what he did? That needs to be investigated."

The opposition Left Front and Congress have demanded immediate deployment of army to control the situation. Both CPI(M) state secretary, Surya Kanta Mishra, and State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury have demanded that an all party meeting be convened on this issue to chalk a way out to tackle the situation.

Mamata hinted that the saffron party may be fomenting trouble by provoking communal tensions.

"I won't spare anybody fuelling communal clashes. BJP may provoke, but why will you walk into the trap? Those who have destroyed government property will have to pay for it," she said.

The North 24 Parganas, with its approximately 26% Muslim population, had seen devastating violence in 2016. In Malda's Kaliachak, communal riots broke out on 3 January, 2016, reportedly after a religious gathering of Muslims, that was protesting an alleged hate speech by Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari, turned violent and targeted district administration. A mob set fire to the Kaliachak police station.

Sadhu Rescued By TMC MPs

Trinamool legislators Idris Ali and Hasan Imran Ahmed reportedly helped a sadhu move to safety, by giving him shelter in their car, after an audience they were addressing, turned violent. The car was stoned by the protestors. Imran and Ali said the sadhu was helping them to restore calm in the area.

Ali, an MP from Bashirhat constituency said: "Who all are the people who egged on a 17-year-old to post what he did? That needs to be investigated."

It Was A Facebook Post. What Is My Government's Fault?

This is what Mamata told reporters regarding the Facebook post and the subsequent arrest of the user, as reported by Telegraph.

"We support and respect social networks. They help to educate people on many things. However, the ruling party at the Centre has an agenda — sometimes it is beating people in the name of 'gau raksha', sometimes it is about creating hate groups on Facebook by spreading rumours and creating trouble. An example is the incident which took place yesterday (in Baduria, North 24-Parganas). Some fake pictures are being put up, which have no relation with what has actually happened.

"I would like to tell the people who are indulging in these that they are not doing the right thing. The man who did this was arrested by the police. How many Facebook and Twitter posts can you stop?"

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