The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Saffron coat on Dhantola

Calcutta, March 6: Dhantola, it seems, has no respite in sight.

A month after passengers returning from marriage receptions were looted and raped or molested at Ainsmali in Nadia’s Dhantola, the Hindu Jagran Manch has stepped in.

In a leaflet titled ‘Hinduder proti abedon (an appeal to Hindus)’, the Ranaghat mandal (unit) of one of the most virulent wings of the Sangh parivar has alleged that the Dhantola incident was the handiwork of the minority community.

Quoting from “Islamic scriptures”, the saffron-coloured leaflets — distributed in thousands in villages in the area and near the India-Bangladesh border — seek to portray the attack on the marriage buses as stemming from a religious divide.

The leaflets, officials said, have reached the state home department through a senior police officer and has made Writers’ Buildings sit up and take notice.

“We are keeping a close watch on the situation which, if not handled properly, can cause more damage,” a senior district intelligence branch officer told The Telegraph.

Officials say the purpose behind the leaflets is, very apparently, “mischief mongering”. The literature, replete with factual errors, appears to have had only one motive: fanning communal flames and taking advantage of any schism that exists just below the surface.

The leaflets refer to Hadis (or literature dealing with the message of the Prophet). Two Hadis have been named — the Shahi Hadis and the Bukhari Hadis — as telling Muslims “that one of the ways of gaining purity is by causing bodily harm to women of non-Muslims”. Needless to say, nothing like this appears in the original texts.

What’s worse, Islamic scholars say there is nothing called Shahi Hadis in their canon.

Another glaring factual error, officials pointed out, is the attempt to pass off an under-construction madarsa as having been “inaugurated” by a prominent CPM MLA of Nadia on February 6 (the day after the night of the Dhantola incidents).

“Seven months ago, there was a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction,” an official said. But the CPM MLA did not go anywhere near the site in the recent months, he added.

Calling for a boycott of the Hindus trying to protect members of “another community”, the leaflets ask the Opposition parties to learn a lesson. Not all members of the minority community are terrorists but “all terrorists” are members of that community, the leaflets put it in black and saffron.

Officials described them as “highly offensive”.

This is the last thing the place — and the row — needed. As it is, Dhantola has had to put up with a fair share of news for the wrong reasons, they said.

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