Asansol

Asansol: The situation in West Bengal’s Asansol continues to be tense while reports of Hindu emigration from the town keep pouring in. Speaking to a television channel, a migrant said, “We are moving to safer locations. We are taking our families to the places where the population of Muslims is less.”

“(Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is doing nothing for the Hindus,” said another migrant.

“No fresh incident of violence was reported from the area in last three days,” a senior police officer said, adding that a huge contingent of the police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) is patrolling the area.

Riots had broken out in nearby Raniganj last week when TMC workers obstructed a Ram Navami procession organised by the local unit of the BJP. The procession was not allowed to enter a neighbourhood. That had led to heated verbal exchanges between the two groups when some Muslims arrived and pelted stones on the BJP activists and set the shops in the area on fire.

Soon, the news spread in the adjoining towns, villages and districts, forcing the State administration to deploy police and RAF in the affected areas. A police officer lost his arm when a rioter hurled a bomb at the cops.

Muslims have been at the receiving end of riots, too. A teenager Sibtulla Rashidi (16) had gone missing while a riot had broken out in the area of government quarters for the staff of Railways. His body was recovered last Wednesday and identified on Thursday.

This follows the news of another Muslim casualty Sirf News had reported during the Purulia riots.

On Saturday, 31 March, Governor KN Tripathi visited violence-hit Asansol. He held separate meetings with the police force deployed in the town and administration officials.

Earlier, the Banerjee government had advised him to avoid this visit.

“I have spoken to the police and district administration and have appraised myself of the ground situation in Asansol. Peace is paramount. I appeal to all sections of people and communities to stay away from violence,” said the governor.

Even earlier, not only BJP MP Babul Supriyo and president of women’s wing of BJP in West Bengal Locket Chatterjee but also West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was stopped by police from entering Asansol. In protest, supporters of the Congress leader have blocked NH2 near Asansol.

On being stopped by the police, Supriyo went around the area, on the way complaining to journalists that it was his duty as the MP of the area to be by the side of the people. “The police are not allowing me to discharge my responsibility and duty,” he said.

Asansol Mayor Jeetendra Tiwari, however, rubbished Supriyo’s claim, alleging that the MP was putting up in a hotel in Durgapur during the incidents of rioting and that he had come down to Asansol to disturb its peace again.

Locket Chatterjee, on the other hand, was stopped right outside the Durgapur hospital where she had gone to visit some riot victims.

Referring to the blockade, TMC general secretary Partho Chatterjee had said, “They are disturbing the law and order of Asansol so that they are shown on television.”\

The TMC leader did not name the BJP MP or leader. However, clearly alluding to him, he said, “A certain central minister pushes and shoves policemen and speaks “rock-er bhasha” (foul language).” The TMC leader alleged that the BJP was trying to import a culture of badmouthing to Bengal.

Both the chief minister and Chatterjee have said that there was no scope for disturbing the State in the name of observing any religion’s rituals. “The administration will do what the administration ought to do. It aims at controlling all kinds of disturbance,” Chatterjee said.

BJP president Amit Shah has constituted a four-member team led by MP Om Mathur to visit Asansol and report the prevailing situation to the ruling party’s leadership.