Home Minister Amit Shah Calls Up Bengal Governor Over Violence In Howrah

Searches and raids were conducted throughout the night in different pockets around Kazipara

Home Minister Amit Shah dialled Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose and state BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar this evening to assess the law and order situation in the state after a clash broke out between two groups during a Ram Navami procession in Howrah on Thursday. A large police contingent was deployed in the area after a mob went on a rampage, burning vehicles, throwing stones and ransacking shops. Several police vehicles were also damaged during the incident.

The governor, who will soon be visiting the riot-hit areas, believed to have provided Mr Shah details about the violence and the current situation on the ground.

Searches and raids were conducted throughout the night in different pockets around Kazipara – the site of the unrest – and 36 people have so far been arrested in connection with the clash. While the situation was largely peaceful in the district today, a fresh case of violence was reported from Shibpur locality, hours after the road where the incident took place opened up to traffic.

The incident has sparked a political tug-of-war in the state with the Trinamool Congress and BJP blaming each other for the violence.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who assured of strict action against the culprits, accused the BJP for allegedly trying to stoke communal tension during the procession. She alleged that the BJP had hired goons from other states to orchestrate communal riots.

“Why did they change the route and take the unauthorised route to target and attack one community? If they believe they will attack others and receive relief through legal interventions, they must know that the people will reject them one day,” she said.

Abhishek Banerjee, considered number two in the Trinamool, accused the BJP of inciting trouble.  “How was a Ram Navami rally happening with guns and pistols?” he asked, playing videos which appeared to show a group of men participating in a rally with pistols.

He also accused BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari of orchestrating the violence with help from the party top brass. “He meets The Union Home Minister in Delhi and then returns to Kolkata. He held a public meeting the next day and says watch TV tomorrow. The next day there are riots. Aap chronology samjhiye (Understand the chronology),” he alleged.

BJP MP Locket Chatterjee alleged that “Hindus in Bengal are under threat” and accused Ms Banerjee, who is also the state’s Home Minister, of appeasement politics.

“It is disheartening. Such visuals emerge from Bengal every Ram Navami and Durga idol immersion. It is not acceptable that the lives of Hindus in Bengal are under threat. When there was violence in Howrah yesterday, Mamata Banerjee was sitting on a 30-hour dharna,” she said.

The BJP has also sought an NIA probe and deployment of central forces in the affected areas through a petition in the Calcutta High Court.

Bengal last witnessed communal riots during the Ram Navami celebrations five years ago, a year ahead of general elections.

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