Tahlka News Bureau
Kolkata: West Bengal has been facing communal riots after a controversial Facebook post went viral which turned violent on the streets. A bus has been burned down by the mob after which the police have arrested several politician of Friday morning to prevent them from visit the violence-hit Basirhat.
BJP leader Roopa Gangyuly and Locket Chaterjee has been arrested near the Kolkata airport when they insisted on proceeding to Basirhat, around 12 kilometers from the Bangladesh border that has seen violence by several Muslim mobs and retaliatory attacks over four days.
The Centre has sent 300 police personnel to control the situation in North 24 Paragansas district of West Bengal.
The situation was peaceful until Friday morning, since the locals and police officers had met on Thursday night. Prohibitory order and internet services remained suspended for the third day in a row.
On Thursday afternoon, Bashirat turned into a warzone after Hindu mobs clashed with police and vandalized homes and shops belonging to the minorities. The violence started only after Thursday evening.
"After 8pm on Thursday police officers held extensive meetings with the people in the Hindu-dominated localities of Basirhat town, and followed assurances by the officers that the area will not come under attack from Muslim mobs, road blockades were lifted," Pintu Hati, a resident of Harishpur, said.
"All we wanted from the police was assurance that our homes, shop, and properties won't be targeted by anyone. We have no intention of attacking anyone. We have lived peacefully be restored," Ganesh Monday, a resident of Mailakhola which is a part of Basirhat town, said on Friday morning.
The police have arrested more than 30 people, most of them Muslims. However, police officers remained tightlipped. They said only arrested the class 11 student, whose Facebook post triggered violence, on Sunday night.
On Monday, Muslim mobs set the buildings and shops on fire and clashed with police, angered by the post, in areas such as Bashirat, Baduria, Swarupnagar in North 24 Parganas district near Bangladesh.
A 65-year-old man, Kartik Ghosh was stabbed to death by the mob with sharp objects while he was on his going back home on a motorcycle on Wednesday afternoon. This was the first death in the violence hit Basirat region, 12 km away from Bangladesh border.
After that, mobs attacked a dargha and vandalized shops and houses belonging to Muslims in what locals described as retaliatory attacks. Police personnel struggling to control the crowd fired tear gas shells, but it only kept them busy for sometime. Angry mobs set fires on fire and sounds of local-made bombs exploding were also head.
Trinamool Congress politician and a party official also came under attack from a Hindu mob the evening. "I was at the Basirhat police station when a group of anti-social elements descended on my house around 5:30pm," Bashirat (south) MLA Dipendu Biswas said.
Reports emerged that Trinamool leaders were unhappy with Biswas' activities in the area, and have summoned him to the party office in Kolkata on Friday. Residents of Harishpur and Mailakhola villages alleged him of accompanying the police when they went to search homes in Hindu-dominated areas in search of weapons.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked all political parties to refrain from visiting the riot hit area until peace is restored. "Please cooperate with the government," she said on Thursday evening. She accused the BJP of spreading communal tension via social media by spreading rumors.
"Social media is being misused. They (BJP) is spreading rumors through social media. This is a trend of the BJP… a modern design of the party… That is why we are trying to caution the people."
The violence took a political turn with the opposition Bahratiya Janata party accusing the chief minister of appeasing Muslims and the ruling Trinamool Congress alleging the saffron party for inciting communal passion for electoral benefit.
BJPs Meenakshi Lekhi, Satyapal Singh and Om Prakash Mathur were scheduled to visit Basirhat on Friday and submit a report to party president Amit Shah. But the state administration is likely to block their way into the area.