governor

Asansol: West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi today held an hour-long meeting with senior police and administration officials here and took stock of the situation in violence-hit areas of Raniganj and Asansol. The governor, who reached Asansol circuit house this morning, is scheduled to visit the violence-hit areas of Raniganj and Asansol areas later in the day.

Earlier this week, the State government had advised him against visiting Asansol and Raniganj, citing security reasons.

Union minister Babul Supriyo and State BJP Mahila Morcha president Locket Chatterjee were also stopped from entering the Asansol-Raniganj area by police on Thursday.

One person was killed and two police officers suffered serious injuries on Monday when clashes broke out between two groups over a Ram Navami procession in Raniganj area of Bardhaman West district.

The violence fanned out to Asansol areas, prompting police to suspend Internet services and clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in trouble-torn areas of the district.

The Imam of Noorani Masjid, Imdatullah Rashid, had said that his son was also killed in the violence but there was no confirmation from the police on the incident.

On Friday morning, refugee camps set up by the BJP were abandoned as some tried to return home and others left to take shelter with friends and relatives elsewhere, some in Jharkhand.

“A majority is scared and has left Asansol. We are trying our best to help them. Since police are conducting raids on us and our followers are being arrested, many prefer to hide. There is no help from the administration,” claimed Laksman Gorui, BJP state president.

In Delhi, the BJP formed a four-member team to visit Asansol, look into the circumstances that led to the violence and submit their report to party president Amit Shah. The team comprises national vice-president Om Mathur, national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, and MPs Rupa Ganguly and BD Ram.

On Tuesday, the VHP had planned Ram Navami rallies from six places to congregate in Asansol, just over 200 km to the north-west of Kolkata and less than an hour’s drive from West Bengal’s boundary with Jharkhand. But unlike other years, the town in the State’s coal belt, already reeling under communal tension that left one person dead in next-door Ranigunj a day earlier, was witness to violence, and one death, this time.

“We are taking out Ram Navami processions in Asansol for the last 40 years but have never seen this — our rallies were attacked and even fired upon, vehicles were burnt and idols damaged,” Om Narayan Prasad, VHP working president of West Burdwan district, said

According to police sources, the first clashes took place in Rail Par, an area dominated by the minority community. According to locals, everything was normal until an “offensive song” was allegedly played and some men standing there protested.

The worst hit was a 2.5-km stretch comprising DC Roy Road, OK Road, Rail Par, Sagum Par, Chandmari, Chetla danga, where muslims households are concentrated in the middle, surrounded by pockets of muslim families, mainly Hindi-speaking people who have lived in this part for generations.

More than 60 people have been arrested and police are going through pictures and videos taken on cellphones by people from both communities to identify miscreants. “Police are probing. We will soon know how and why this happened,” said Jitendra Tiwari, Asansol mayor and TMC leader.