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Monday 1 June 2020

Chandrakona, Naihati, Katwa riots preceded Dhulagarh

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New Delhi: Following our preliminary report on the riots in Dhulagarh of the Howrah district of Bengal, some concerned inhabitants of the affected area have been calling and writing to सिर्फ़ News about the prevailing scenario.

An environment of mutual mistrust and tension prevails between Hindus and Muslims of the area since the Durga Puja in mid-October, a citizen informed us. She said it began with clashes between processions for immersion of idols worshipped during the Puja and rallies for Taziya as the Mahadashami coincided with Muharram.

While it has been reported that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has denied the occurrence of communal riots in the area, another citizen of Dhulagarh told us today that some Trinamool Congress leaders have been camping in their suburb for the last few days. “If nothing has happened here, what are these ruling party leaders here for?” he asked.

In the meantime, some incidents of communal strife have been reported from other parts of the Howrah district, Katwa, Naihati and Chandrakona, which the national media is still not aware of.

Around the same time in the Tehatta Basudebpur High School of Uluberia in Howrah, two teenage brothers Arpan Malik (16) and Arnab Malik (14) had protested their Muslim peers’ demand that Milad-un-Nabi be commemorated once again in their school premises. They were beaten up black and blue. No assailant has been reprimanded, let alone apprehended for the violence, the father of another student complained.

The victims are from the predominantly Dalit village of Tehatta Bhuipara, but no caste leader has invoked the law dealing with atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a villager complained. “Caste is not an issue in Bengal,” he said, “while religion cannot be an issue either because the Hindus are too scared to speak up.”

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The desecrated Kali temple of Daspara, Katwa

In mid-December, some miscreants left a decapitated leg of the corpse of a cow at the Kali temple of Katwa’s Daspara neighbourhood. Incidents of strife falling short of riots happened for a week in the area. The police have still not been able to figure out who the culprits are.

Before that, a woman from a family of migrant workers from Bihar was shot at during riots in Naihati in November. Even earlier, a popular right-wing blogger reported that Puja-Muharram clashes had occurred in the Taltali village of Murshidabad, Andul Argori and Manikpur Beltala villages in Howrah, Chandannagar Urdubazar and Telenipara in Hooghly, Hajinagar in North 24 Parganas, Kalaberia village in East Medinipur, Khargapur Golbazar Market in West Medinipur, Ballabhpara Ghat Hatkhola and Rajua village in Bardhaman, Aarapur and Kharba villages and Rishipara in Malda. Some of these clashes had led to riots, alleged several Facebook users, posting updates in Bengali.

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Around the same time, a capitalist-turned-leftist newspaper cherry-picked from the riots incidents of violence against Muslim households alone.

The complaint we have received that pertains to the oldest incident so far is from Chandrakona. Riots had erupted in the Hindu-dominated town in May-June over rights of passage to Muslims. A Hindu activist group had then demanded a prohibition on building mosques in the area and on letting Muslims establish shops in the town. The local administration did not accept either demand. Some of the Hindu boys of Chandrakona suspected of being involved in the riots were arrested and later released while a few are facing trials. No Muslim is in jail or police custody anymore for the alleged crime (rioting).

Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
The founder of सिर्फ़ News has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life and columnist in various newspapers and magazines, writing in English as well as Hindi. He was the national affairs editor of Swarajya, 2014-16. He worked with Hindusthan Samachar in 2017. He was the first chief editor of Sirf News and is now back at the helm after a stint as the desk head of MyNation of the Asianet group. He is a mathematician by training with interests in academic pursuits of science, linguistics and history. He advocates individual liberty and a free market in a manner that is politically feasible. His hobbies include Hindi film music and classical poetry in Bengali, English, French, Hindi and Urdu.
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