Malda: Basirhat or its small town Baduria does not exemplify the only case of persecution of Hindus in West Bengal. They may be at the receiving end even in cases where they are not encountering Muslims. Here, their adversary turned out to be the establishment. So that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not “inconvenienced”, the West Bengal Police blocked the Hindus of Sadarghat of Malda from following their tradition of regular kirtans. This happened when the chief minister visited the district on 28 June, last Wednesday.
The police in Malda felt that the “noise” from the temple near Gouda Bhavan, where the chief minister was to put up, would disturb her. The police raided the place of worship last Monday and seized all mikes and loudspeakers from the temple.
The police revisited the temple later that night when the organizers of the namsangkirtan, as the mass chanting of prayers by a Hindu gathering Hindu is referred to in Bengal, decided to put up a semblance of resistance. The resulting consternation continued till 3 AM. As more Hindus gathered to protest, the police beat a hasty retreat.
On Tuesday, a high-ranking police officer approached the organisers and sought an apology from them. But then, he came back to hold a meeting with the local MLA and politicians from different parties, and summoned the temple’s administrators there. The whole gathering pressured the organisers to abandon their programme of namsangkirtan. The temple administration refused to yield to the pressure.
The kirtan went on that day, on the day of the chief minister’s visit and is continuing at the time of the drafting of this report. Albeit without the loudspeakers (which had been seized by the police)!
District president of the BJP Subroto Kundu wanted to know why the authorities had to exert extra pressure on the organisers of kirtan even after snatching away their mikes. He asked why the same police watched the proceedings like mute spectators at the time of the Kaliachak hooliganism. He said it was unbelievable that the chief minister would leave the busybodies of the police department unquestioned after the dispute last year over her administration’s attempt to block the immersion processions following the Durga Puja.
Kundu contrasted this act of “intolerance” by the State’s police witnessed in Malda with the conduct of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as witnessed on 27 March 2016. Modi, he said, was addressing a rally in Kharagpur’s BNR Ground. In the course of his speech, Kundu recalled, the sound of azan (call for salah/namaz) emanated from a nearby mosque. The prime minister halted his speech immediately and waited for the prayers to be over, the local BJP leader said, exuding pride in the supreme leader of his party.