North India

Political slugfest follows as usual after Ram Navami clashes in Howrah

Not surprisingly, the clashes in Howrah district over a Ram Navami procession on Thursday, which continued till Friday afternoon, have evoked similar reeponse.

Kolkata: For the last few years, whenever there have been clashes over any religious function or procession in West Bengal, what invariably followed in the next few days were a series of political slugfest and passing-the-buck episodes.

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Not surprisingly, the clashes in Howrah district over a Ram Navami procession on Thursday, which continued till Friday afternoon, have evoked similar reeponse.

Interestingly, the statements made by the political leaders are often quite self-contradictory as is evident this time as well.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while admitting that there have been lapses on the part of the state police in bringing the situation under control before it turned serious, has held the organisers of the procession, who according to her enjoy the backing of BJP, responsible for the violence.

According to Banerjee, the organisers changed the route of the procession at the last moment and deviated from the route permitted by the police, which ultimately led to the clashes.

Trinamool national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee went a step ahead and said the clashes were deliberately planned and instigated by the BJP. The Lok Sabha MP also said that the main aim of the procession was to instigate violence as many armed with firearms and lethal weapons were seen taking part in it.

State BJP President and Lok Sabha MP Sukanta Majumdar said that he agrees with the Trinamool leadership that the clashes were pre-planned.

“But the conspiracy was hatched by the ruling party in close collaboration with a section of the police. In the recent bypoll to the Sagardighi Assembly constituency, Trinamool got a clear indication that a fast erosion in their dedicated minority vote bank has started. So, the Howrah clashes were deliberately orchestrated to win back minority votes using the so-called ‘fear’ formula about the BJP,” Majumdar said.

State Congress chief and veteran leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury criticised the state administration on the point of change of route.

“What were the police doing when the first attempt was made to change the route? Why were there no intelligence inputs of such possible attempts to create clashes,” asked the Congress Lok Sabha MP.

Chowdhury also claimed that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the “orchestrated” clashes in Howrah over a religious procession.

Echoing Chowdhury’s views, senior CPI(M) leader and former MLA Kaninika Ghosh Bose quoted a famous statement by former Chief Minister and CPI(M) stalwart, late Jyoti Basu.

“Jyoti Base had once said that riots can never happen unless the rulers want them. The Chief Minister is herself admitting lapses on the part of a section of the police. So naturally questions can be raised about the credibility of the Chief Minister who also holds the home portfolio,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sukanta Majumdar said that he has spoken to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on this issue.

“The Home Minister is quite concerned. I have also sent a letter to him requesting the Central government to intervene in the matter,” Majumdar said.

BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, has already filed a PIL demanding a central agency investigation into the matter.

Till the time of filing this report, the number of arrests made in this case has risen to 46.

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