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Bengal: TMC-BJP trade charges over Howrah violence; Shah calls Governor Bose, CM Mamata

Ban orders under Section 144 imposed after fresh violence rocks Kazipara area; 45 arrested for torching vehicles, destroying public and private property

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 31.03.23, 07:57 PM
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC remained clamped on large parts of the violence-torn urban areas of the district.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC remained clamped on large parts of the violence-torn urban areas of the district. Sourced by Telegraph Online

A fresh spate of violence erupting in the Kazipara area of Shibpur on Friday morning, which was brought under control by the police in a couple of hours, and a bitter war of words between the ruling Trinamul Congress and the Opposition BJP followed in the aftermath of the largescale violence witnessed in Howrah over a Ram Navami procession the day before.

The administrative hustle during the action-packed day comprised Union home minister Amit Shah calling up Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose and chief minister Mamata Banerjee seeking action taken reports from the state administration. While unconfirmed reports of Governor Bose planning to visit the violence affected areas of Howrah on Saturday made rounds, a statement from the Raj Bhavan confirmed that Bose held a “confidential discussion” with chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday while state home secretary BP Gopalika called on the Governor during which Bose “sought a compliance report from the state”.


Admitting laxity on part of the police in controlling rioters on Thursday, Mamata Banerjee promised stern action against all those who would be found to be at fault. Before the day ended, she handed probe responsibilities of the two-day violence over to the state CID.

“Those who resort to violence under the illusion that they can hoodwink the people will soon realise they are in a fool’s paradise… Bengal stands united against the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity. Trouble makers and abettors will be made to realise that they cannot play Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde in Bengal anymore. Police should be objective, strong and fair, and should not let down their masters and the peace-loving people. Raj Bhavan will keep its eyes and ears open to ensure protection to the life, property and dignity of the common man,” the Raj Bhavan statement read.

“The State Government was directed to ensure that fool-proof arrangements are made to maintain law and order effectively and action taken against miscreants firmly. The Chief Minister assured that strict and decisive action will be taken to prevent recurrence of such criminal intimidation,” the statement added.

Suvendu Adhikari's response to Raj Bhavan statement on Twitter

Suvendu Adhikari's response to Raj Bhavan statement on Twitter Twitter

Till reports last received, 45 people were arrested in connection with the violence which included torching of vehicles, destruction of public and private property. Several people, including many police personnel, have been injured in the violence since Thursday. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC remained clamped on large parts of the violence-torn urban areas of Howrah-South.

Speaking to ABP Ananda, chief minister Mamata Banerjee laid the blame for the violence squarely on “BJP-sheltered criminals”.

“It was a one-sided attack by the BJP and the other side had no role in it. I understand they are aggrieved and might be planning a retaliation. I urge them to maintain peace and leave administrative action against the police who failed in their duties and the rioters to me. No one will be spared. We have to catch those who masterminded the violence, irrespective of which faith they belong to. These are criminal minds. A section of police do try and maintain understanding with both sides. We will not tolerate them., We will not allow any propensity for riots at all costs,” she said.

Bengal Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who reached Shibpur on Friday afternoon to meet BJP workers from the area, submitted a memorandum along with purported visual evidence of Ram bhakts allegedly coming under attack to the office of the Howrah police commissioner. He demanded police action against the accused.

Adhikari, while claiming that the Ram Navami rally organizers had the requisite police permission to proceed along the route it took on Thursday, confirmed he had moved the Calcutta High Court praying for an NIA probe into the incident and immediate deployment of central forces in the region. The matter is likely to be heard on Monday. The party tweeted a copy of purported ‘permission’ from the Howrah police commissionerate for the Ram Navami rally in support of its claim.

Alleging police inaction during the riots, Adhikari alleged: “The police are silent spectators. They are not doing anything. All houses of Hindus have been selectively vandalized. The Hindus in the Kazipara area had to flee to save their lives.”

The party’s state secretary, Sukanta Majumdar, separately wrote to home minister Shah seeking NIA investigation into Ram Navami violence in Howrah and also, allegedly, in the north Bengal district of Uttar Dinajpur.

Adhikari also visited the injured BJP supporters undergoing treatment at the Howrah district hospital.

In a sharp retort to Adhikari’s claims, TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee stressed that the rally organizers had no permission from police and released a White Paper of documents pertaining to the permission controversy to make his point. While maintaining that the police had merely issued a set of guidelines and had asked for documents in the wake of an application made by the rally organizers, Banerjee said: “Not even one of these four guidelines was followed. The administration sent this letter on March 21 but no response was sent to the same. No details were submitted on March 29 as asked for in the letter. I challenge them to share a copy of the permission and not the application.”

“The police had asked for a copy of last year’s permission, the exact number of participants, the route of the rally mentioning starting and ending points, and the exact starting and finishing time of the rally. They did not send a response for any. All of these rallies were illegal and action will be taken against them,” he added.

The TMC leader went on to make a significant allegation, suggesting that the riots were held “at the behest” and “at the active patronage” of the “Delhi-based political bosses of local BJP leaders”.

“You must look at the chronology of events which took place over the last few days to figure out what really happened. Suvendu Adhikari goes to Delhi and meets Amit Shah. He returns to Kolkata and announces from a Shyambazar to keep an eye on the TV for over the next couple of days. And then the violence starts. It’s easy to figure out how this was planned,” Banerjee told reporters on Friday.

Banerjee showed videos allegedly of Thursday’s rally participants brandishing firearms and sharp weapons prior to, and during, the violence and alleged that a vulgar display of a certain kind of culture, hitherto unknown in Bengal, was being forcefully injected by the BJP in the name of Ram Navami celebrations.

Earlier, a fresh spate of brick batting between two groups were reported from Kazipara despite the presence of a large contingent of armed police and Rapid Action Force under the command of senior IPS officers. Some journalists were also allegedly roughed up by the violent mob.

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