Mamata tells Bengal police to nip post-Pulwama mischief in bud
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she had given strict instructions to the entire police force to ensure there were no complaints about inaction on attempts to provoke communal disharmony.
“I have issued clear, strict instructions to the police, the whole administration: from constables to the level of directors-general. Instructions against inaction. I have spoken to them already. Riots and riot-mongering have to be dealt with firmly. The police, unlike in Bihar, will not stand as mute spectators. Every human life is precious,” the chief minister told a news conference at the state secretariat in the evening.
“This is the exam season…. Our police must and will act strongly against this heinous politics,” Mamata added.
The assertion came amid complaints of assault, intimidation and show of aggression in the name of condemning the Pulwama attack, which the chief minister blamed on the BJP-RSS-VHP.
A parallel test also unfolded with posts on social media, some of them raising uncomfortable questions revolving around the defence forces and the nationalistic vocabulary being woven around them. Although not all of the questions can be dismissed as irrelevant, an apprehension does exist that the tone could be misused by vested interests to inflame passions at a sensitive time.
A schoolteacher has lost his job and at least three persons have been arrested in Bengal over social media posts. (See Page 6 and Metro)
Keenly aware of the potential for mischief, government sources later said the administration was opposed to tension being fomented from “either end of the spectrum”. “The chief minister mentioned the saffron camp specifically because of these inflammatory rallies in sensitive places. However, the administration is also not favourably disposed towards trouble from the other extreme end of opinion on this,” said a source.
Mamata said Sangh parivar groups had been trying to vitiate the atmosphere in Bengal and exploit the Pulwama tragedy for benefit ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
“A US intelligence report a month ago said that India will see a rise in communal tension and riots before the Lok Sabha polls. It was an advisory, an alert. In the name of elections, riots will take place, they had alerted everyone,” Mamata said.
Hailing Bengal’s history and heritage of patriotism, tolerance, communal harmony and unity in diversity, she accused the BJP-RSS-VHP combine of milking the terror attack. “In Bengal, for these two days, after midnight, some RSS pracharaks, the VHP, the BJP, their outfits, their activists are taking to the streets brandishing the Indian flag. They only know how to make people hate, totally communal organisations, creating panic in the dark,” Mamata added.
“We will not take lessons in patriotism from anybody. We have been seeing a dangerous trend nationally…. I sincerely appeal to all correct-minded political parties, everyone, let’s put a stop to this.”
She said every citizen of India had the right to live anywhere in the country.