Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said she believed that Friday’s targeting of Bengal junior forest minister Birbaha Hansda was not the handiwork of the Kurmi community but of the BJP that wanted to trigger violence by orchestrating an attack on Abhishek Banerjee.
“They (BJP workers) yesterday dared to vandalise the car of Birbaha Hansda, our minister. She is an actress who is involved in various activities. I assign her so many tasks. I still believe my Kurmi brothers were not involved in the attack, but the BJP in the name of the Kurmis resorted to violence and tried to attack Abhishek,” Mamata said in her address to party workers during Trinamul’s Nabo Jowar programme in West Midnapore’s Salboni.
Mamata said the BJP was trying to incite violence in Bengal like in Manipur. “They want to separate the hills from Bengal. They want to create fissures between Rajbanshis and Kamatapuris. They want to incite violence between Kurmis and Adivasis. The BJP is pumping in huge money to fuel violence,” she said.
A group of protesting Kurmis on Friday night vandalised the car of Birbaha, who was travelling behind Abhishek’s convoy, in Jhargram. People belonging to the Kurmi community had assembled on Abhishek’s route to draw his attention to their longstanding demand for Scheduled Tribe tag. As soon as Abhishek’s convoy passed the area, a group of people from among the protesters attacked Birbaha’s car and a dozen Trinamul workers.
A source said police had so far detained four persons for their alleged involvement in Friday’s violence. Among them is Rajesh Mahato, a Kurmi leader who heads one of the two outfits of the community.
“The police will probe the incident and take action according to the law. But they (BJP) should remember that by engaging in violence no one would be able to harm Bengal and the Trinamul Congress even a little bit,” Mamata said.
The leaders of two prominent Kurmi outfits in Jungle Mahal held a media conference on Saturday to say their organisations were not involved in the attack.
“We are continuing with our peaceful movement. We have specific demands for our chief minister, but we don’t believe in violence and no one from our community was involved in Friday’s incident,” said Ajit Mahato, convener of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj.
Another outfit of the community also denied the charge and wrote to the police superintendent of West Midnapore requesting time to meet Mamata. However, they were not allowed to meet the chief minister.
Mamata cautioned the Kurmis against getting provoked by BJP leaders, who she accused of trying to create tensions in Jungle Mahal between the tribals and the Kurmis.
Mamata told the audience that for her people of both communities were equal and she did not discriminate against anyone on the basis of caste, creed or religion.
“If Kurmis are my left hand, the tribals are my right hand. We are not like the BJP that always tries to discriminate on the basis of caste and religion,” she said.
“The central government has asked me why I haven’t instituted a task force for the NRC exercise in Bengal. I want to assure you that I will not let the NRC take place in our state. The BJP should remember that during riots, your house will also burn,” Mamata said.
BJP leaders denied any involvement in the attack and accused Trinamul of creating tensions between the two communities in Jungle Mahal. “Trinamul is trying to incite violence between the Kurmis and the tribals. We are against this and condemn such attempts,” BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.