Bengal Ram Navami clash: TMC, BJP engage in war of words, share video blaming each other
Kolkata/IBNS: The unleashing of violence in Bengal's Howrah during a Ram Navami procession on Thursday has now sparked a war of words and exchange of videos as a part of the blame game routine between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A large contingent of police was deployed in the area after a mob went on a rampage, burning vehicles, throwing stones and ransacking shops.
Several police vehicles were also damaged during the incident.
Prohibitory orders under section 144 have been invoked in Howrah South's Shibpur after stones were pelted at cops in a fresh incident of violence near the Kazipara area on Friday.
So far, 46 people have been arrested in connection with the violence. More cops were deployed to the area.
Following these, both the TMC and the BJP held media conferences and shared videos blaming the other for the violence.
What TMC has said:
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a telephone interview with ABP Ananda, blamed the BJP for the violence and reiterated that she will take strong action over the incident.
"Those who were involved in today's violence will not be spared based on any excuse. I will take strong action against them and urge the people to keep faith in the government," she told the channel.
"There were clear instructions to mark the routes for the procession. I do not support the riot-mongers and consider them the enemy of the country," she said.
In his media conference, Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is the nephew of CM Mamata Banerjee, shared a video where some men are seen holding guns and other weapons at the Ram Navami procession.
Speaking to the reporters, he said: "There was no police permission to hold a procession on this route. There was a problem on this route last year as well. But the same route was taken this year forcibly in the name of doing a Ram Navami procession."
He questioned why weapons and DJs are part of a Ram Navami procession.
"Footage from the spot has emerged showing that those, who attended the procession, were carrying guns, pistols, and swords. Hawkers lost their wares as their carts were set on fire. What kind of Shobha Yatra was this?"
BJP's DANGABAJI FORMULA at work again:— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) March 31, 2023
🧨 Provoke & instigate communities against each other.
💣 Supply weapons to incite violence.
⚔️Create communal tension deliberately.
🤹🏼🎁 Reap political benefits.
A classic unholy blueprint right out of the @BJP4India playbook!👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/HKZ0BmIlCm
"What kind of tradition is this to play DJ music and pay respects to our Lord Ram? Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister in 2011. This kind of hooliganism was never seen in Bengal till 2015. But after winning 2 seats in 2014 and 3 MLAs later, they started thinking that this state is their personal property," Abhishek alleged.
He blamed the BJP for "constantly trying to provoke communal tensions" and getting Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Jains to fight among themselves.
"Those who try to disrupt the communal peace in the state instead of doing the political fight, we have no words to condemn them," he added.
He also accused BJP's Suvendu Adhikari of orchestrating the violence with help from the party's top brass.
"He meets The Union Home Minister in Delhi and then returns to Kolkata. He held a public meeting the next day and says watch TV tomorrow. The next day there are riots," he alleged.
"I challenge BJP leaders to tweet that those brandishing guns, pelting stones at poor people’s homes, or setting their carts on fire should be arrested," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP blamed the state administration for the incident.
BJP's state president Sukanta Majumdar tweeted a video claiming the government provoked the situation: "Mamata didi's appeasement of a particular community knows no bounds. Spreading lies to blame the innocent victims themselves is the best your government can do. Shameless! Spineless!"
Mamata didi's appeasement of a particular community knows no bounds. Spreading lies to blame the innocent victims themselves is the best your government can do.— Dr. Sukanta Majumdar (@DrSukantaBJP) March 31, 2023
Shameless! Spineless! https://t.co/A8iqADDmiA pic.twitter.com/auel1p1T7W
Speaking to the media, Suvendu Adhikari also released a video showing stones being hurled from a rooftop on the Ram Navami procession.
"The West Bengal government and the Howrah Police are to be blamed completely for the deterioration of law and order as they could not prevent the recurrence of the violence which happened last year at the same venue.
Also, only innocent people have been arrested unfairly who were attacked," he said.
Adhikari filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Calcutta High Court earlier the day demanding an NIA probe and immediate deployment of central forces in such areas for containing the situation and restoration of peace.
"The Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice has been pleased to grant leave to file the PIL and directed the same to appear on Monday at top of the list," he said.
"Hon'ble Governor shouldn't trust the CM when she's assuring 'strict and decisive action' because she's biased and has already blamed the participants of the Ram Navami Procession for the violence," Adhikari added.
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee alleged that "Hindus in Bengal are under threat" and accused the Bengal CM, who is also the state's Home Minister, of appeasement politics.
"It is disheartening. Such visuals emerge from Bengal every Ram Navami and Durga idol immersion. It is not acceptable that the lives of Hindus in Bengal are under threat. When there was violence in Howrah yesterday, Mamata Banerjee was sitting on a 30-hour dharna," she said.
Earlier in the evening, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose and state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Sukanta Majumdar to assess the law and order situation in the state after clashes broke out in Howrah over Ram Navami processions.
Bengal witnessed communal riots during the Ram Navami celebrations five years ago, a year ahead of the general elections.