Basirhat: Although it sounds unlikely that the people of a given region would get provoked by things claimed in social media rather than knowing first-hand what is happening in their area, the small town of Baduria in West Bengal’s district of North 24 Parganas has supposedly erupted, incited by certain Facebook posts. Or so claim Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and a large section of the news media!
It happened this Sunday. A young man, Souvik Sarkar, who hails from the Rudrapur area of Baduria, allegedly posted some communally provocative messages using his Facebook profile. Some people, provoked by the post, blocked roads in Machlandapur, obstructing the passage of vehicular traffic and pedestrians at Tentulia, the Chatra locality of Machlandapur and the crossing of Babu Rasta.
Soon, Basirhat was affected by the development. Again and again, the locals blocked roads in areas such as Kholapata, Shakchura, School Badi and Trimohini. The festival of Ulta Rath, which follows Jagannatha Ratha Yatra, could not be observed as a bunch of Muslim youth allegedly pelted stones at the procession.
Even as the media claimed the causes of the riots were petty, adjoining Swarupnagar and Hingalganj have got engulfed in the fire. There are reports of massive damage to public and private property. People are obstructing roads at different places, demanding immediate action from the authority.
The house of Souvik Sarkar has been set on fire. His family has fled the spot, leaving behind their house unguarded. The police have arrested the man. The arrest did not pacify the provoked lot. Monday witnessed several instances of gang wars in the area. Some police vehicles were set on fire.
The authority has deployed units of the Rapid Action Force (riot police) in the affected areas. The situation has been tense for the past 3 days.
Yesterday in Barasat when some local BJP leaders organised a protest rally at the crossing of the Dak Bungalow area, complaining of ‘police inaction’, the cops stopped the activists. The situation spiralled out of control thereafter. When the general secretary of the party’s Bengal unit Debashri Chowdhury attempted to visit Baduria, the police stopped her in Barasat.
Blaming the ruling Trinamool Congress squarely for the situation, State-level secretary of the BJP Sayantan Basu said, “The TMC has been following a policy of appeasing Muslims in a bid to cultivate them as a vote-bank. Baduria is a consequence of that policy. The entire district of North 24 Parganas has come to a standstill.”
Basu added, “The assailants have attacked police stations, places of worship and ordinary, innocent citizens. The local administration has clearly lost the confidence to rule.” He demanded immediate deployment of the Army in the area.
The towns of Golabari, Bagjora, Keosa, Rudrapur, Mogra, Ramchandrapur and Gopalpur have witnessed communal riots, too.
Video on top: This man says he was part of a funeral procession. They were blocked on the way and asked to stop chanting the name of God (“Bolo Hari, Hari Bol” is a Bengali funeral mantra). He says the miscreants dragged down the corpse. Later, some goons pelted stones at the funeral procession that hurt the driver of the hearse and the few children who had joined the march to the cremation ground.