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No arms rally for Puja: CM

Mamata warns Sangh against fuelling tension

By Our Bureau
  • Published 17.09.17
Mamata at the news conference. (Shyamal Maitra)

Calcutta, Sept. 16: Mamata Banerjee today handed a public warning to the Sangh parivar saying her government would take "strong measures" to prevent any kind of astra michhil (march with weapons) during Durga Puja.

While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has announced shastra pujan (weapon worship) on Vijaya Dashami (September 30) at 300 places in Bengal, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh has repeatedly spoken about distributing trishuls (tridents) among "vulnerable" women ahead of Dashami.

Mamata held a news conference at Nabanna this afternoon, with state police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha at her side, to warn the Sangh-BJP against "playing with fire" and fomenting tension.

"This is dirty politics; who do they want to kill with the weapons? We won't allow such things; we'll initiate strong measures.... (Do they think) they'll come from outside Bengal and teach us how to behave at our festivals?" she said.

"I used to think the RSS has some ethics... but now they are hatching plans to create communal tension (in Bengal). I urge the organisation not to help the BJP, which will tarnish its image."

Nabanna sources said the chief minister had decided to issue the warning after intelligence reports suggested the possibility of communal tension during the festive season.

Kar Purkayastha said: "Some people associated with the BJP at the local level had plotted to create communal tension in Raiganj (by desecrating places of worship) but the police caught them and made two arrests. They have admitted their association with the BJP."

The administration has taken its lessons from the unfamiliar sights that greeted Bengal during Ram Navami on April 5, when saffron-clad men, women and children marched down streets brandishing swords. The Sangh had claimed the "peaceful" participation of at least 6 lakh people in more than 200 such processions in Bengal that day.

Over the past few months, the state has witnessed spells of tension in areas such as Kaliachak, Dhulagarh, Basirhat, Chandernagore and Raiganj, with officials alleging a Sangh-BJP role in most of these instances.

"Handling similar tensions would be tough during a festival when lakhs of people step onto the streets. This is why the chief minister delivered the warning as a deterrent," a senior official said.