Trinamul on Tuesday donated a computer set each to three local mosques in Birbhum’s Bogtui village, which lost 10 persons in a carnage on March 21 last year.
Trinamul's move, sources said, assumes significance after a section of relatives of the victims of the Bogtui massacre recently shifted their allegiance to the BJP, with Mihilal Sheikh, who lost his minor daughter in the massacre, meeting Union home minister Amit Shah during the latter's visit to the district on April 14.
State urban development minister Frihad Hakim handed over the computers to the imams of the three mosques at a Trinamul rally on Tuesday afternoon for the benefit of the children who visit the mosques to learn Arabic.
“These computers will help the children learn perfect pronunciation of Arabic to read religious books properly. They can listen to stalwarts and learn how to read the Quran,” Hakim said after distributing the computers.
Traditionally, many children from the Muslim community visit mosques to learn basic Arabic.
In recent times, the BJP is trying to utilise Mihilal and others like him to showcase how people of the minority community in Bogtui are distancing themselves from Trinamul.
“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not happy with the development in Bogtui. She expressed her dissatisfaction over the shifting of allegiances by Mihilal and some others. So it is a must for our party to ensure that the BJP cannot breach our minority support base. Giving computers to mosques is a part of our outreach,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
Trinamul’s worry over its minority support base was visible after the party lost the recent bypoll in Sagardighi, a constituency with 65 per cent Muslim voters, to Congress candidate Bairon Biswas, who was backed by the Left.
Though Trinamul’s internal assessment suggested Sagardighi's result is a one-off case, Mamata took charge of the minority affairs department from her cabinet colleague Ghulam Rabbani.
Hakim, without taking names, mounted an attack on the Muslim families who had apparently shifted their allegiances to the BJP.
He reminded them about how Mamata had stood by the affected families.
He told a gathering of 1,000 in Bogtui that some people "had joined hands with people whose hands are full of bloodstains of thousands from our community".
Many of those who attended the rally carried a placard that said Bogtui villagers were with Mamata Banerjee.
Before attending the Bogtui event, Hakim visited Margram for a condolence meeting for two Trinamul workers from the minority community who were recently murdered.
Trinamul sources said Hakim was tasked with taking care of the party's Muslim support base in Birbhum, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur.
“Does Firhad Hakim think that donating computers to mosques will make these people forget what he had said after the carnage? He had claimed that the fire (the March 21 arson in Bogtui that led to the 10 deaths) erupted after a television set burst. The minority community will now have to decide if they wish to remain just voters for Trinamul or rise above it and fight for their rights,” said Shamik Bhattacharya, the BJP’s chief spokesperson in Bengal.
Mihilal, when contacted, claimed Trinamul donated computers to mosques in Bogtui as Muslims were shifting their support from the party.
Syed Siraj Zimmi, the Trinamul block president of Rampurhat-I block who arranged the event, however, claimed distributing computers to mosques in Bogtui was a unique step and there was no reason to see politics in it.
“Our only goal is to help the children learn Arabic and the computers will come in handy. We don’t know if any political party had taken such an initiative (before this),” Zimmi said.