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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Modi condemns attack on RKM ashram, says TMC let loose reign of terror on monks to appease vote bank

It is shameful that the TMC has taken up the onus of hurting the religious faith of Hindus in Bengal. The CM is threatening the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Ashram monks: PM Modi

PTI Jhargram (WB) Published 20.05.24, 05:48 PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File picture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday engaged in a heated exchange over the latter's remarks against Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha, with Modi accusing the TMC of threatening monks for vote bank politics and Banerjee clarifying that her criticism was directed at certain individuals, not the institutions.

Addressing an election rally in West Bengal's Jhargram, Modi condemned the vandalism at Ramakrishna Mission ashram in Jalpaiguri on Sunday and accused the TMC regime of instigating violence against monks to appease their vote bank.

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"It is shameful that the TMC has taken up the onus of hurting the religious faith of Hindus in Bengal. The CM is threatening the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Ashram monks. On Sunday, Ramakrishna Mission ashram in Jalpaiguri was attacked. The people of Bengal will not tolerate this," Modi said.

His remarks followed the vandalism incident on Sunday, where miscreants stormed the Ramakrishna Mission (RKM) premises in Jalpaiguri, threatening monks and other employees at gunpoint.

"Around 10 armed youths barged into our ashram at 3 am, went to the first floor and threatened the eight people present there - including senior monks - at gunpoint to leave the premises," an RKM official said.

The attackers then vandalised the premises, breaking CCTV cameras and locking the main gate before fleeing. Police later rescued the stranded monks and staff.

An RKM official suggested that a local land mafia was behind the early Sunday morning incident, which was reportedly a property dispute issue. The monks have lodged a complaint at Bhaktinagar police station against a local tough and his associates.

Political tensions have intensified as both the BJP and the TMC used the development to galvanise their respective support bases during the elections, with the BJP portraying the attack as part of a broader pattern of religious intolerance under the TMC and Banerjee defending her commitment to religious and philanthropic institutions while denouncing political meddling by certain individuals.

Modi criticised Banerjee's recent comments against certain monks of RKM and Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS) that they were working as per instructions of the BJP, asserting that these socio-religious organisations are being threatened to appease the TMC's vote bank.

"ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission, and Bharat Sevashram Sangha are known for service and morality, but today the CM of Bengal is threatening them. This is being done to appease the vote bank. As the CM is threatening the monks, TMC goons now dare to attack Ramakrishna Mission," he said.

Addressing an election rally in Goghat under Arambagh Lok Sabha constituency on Saturday, Banerjee had claimed, "Some monks of Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha are working under the influence of BJP leaders in Delhi." Criticising her statements, Modi said, "The TMC does not care about the sentiments of the people of Bengal. They have no sympathy for the feelings of the Hindus here. The people of Bengal will not tolerate this insult." The Prime Minister accused Banerjee of abusing saints and monks of the state to appease her vote bank.

"The TMC is jittery because the party sees its time is over. Sensing defeat, the TMC's anger and frustration are at their peak," he added, reminiscing about his association with the RKM monastic order.

Modi on Sunday had also accused Banerjee of "threatening" these socio-religious organisations under pressure from Muslim extremists to "appease" the TMC's vote bank.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, speaking at rallies in Onda and Panskura earlier, praised the RKM and BSS for their philanthropic work and clarified that her criticism was directed at specific persons.

"I am not against the Ramakrishna Mission, why should I be against an institution or insult it?" Banerjee said. "I have spoken about one or two persons." Banerjee recounted her past support for the Ramakrishna Mission, highlighting how she saved Swami Vivekananda's house in Kolkata from being sold and secured the house where Sister Nivedita stayed in Darjeeling.

She also mentioned the construction of a skywalk to Dakshineswar temple from the Metro railway station.

The CM singled out Kartik Maharaj of BSS, accusing him of political activities and instigating clashes in Rejinagar.

"If he wants to canvass for BJP, he can, but should do it wearing its badge," she said, alleging that he was previously aligned with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Claiming that the BSS monk from Murshidabad district was working for the BJP, she accused him of instigating people when clashes between two groups happened at Rejinagar a few weeks ago.

"I had spoken about Kartik Maharaj, he did not allow Trinamool Congress agent to sit (at a polling booth) in Rejinagar," Banerjee said.

Swami Pradiptananda Maharaj of BSS, also known as Kartik Maharaj, announced he had sent a legal notice to Banerjee, demanding an apology for her alleged defamatory remarks about the organisation.

"If Mamata Banerjee had defamed me personally, I would not have been concerned. As a spiritual leader, we are not affected by personal criticism as we are here to serve the people. However, she defamed the organisation, which is unacceptable," he told PTI.

The national secretary of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Swami Biswatmananda Maharaj, claimed he was unaware of the issue.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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