The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: No ifs, no buts – Mamata Banerjee will have to crack down hard on communal violence

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Iron fist

Communal riots erupted in the town of Baduria in West Bengal on Sunday evening over a cartoon depicting religious figures that was shared on social media. Angered by the portrayal, Muslim mobs rampaged through the area, attacking Hindu shops and homes. Various roads were also blockaded and even police vehicles were set on fire. This violence happened even though the West Bengal police had arrested the boy – currently studying in Class 12 – who had allegedly posted the cartoon on Sunday.

In the face of this sudden violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a press conference on Tuesday, bizarrely blaming the governor for speaking rudely to her – and then went on to announce that anyone who has damaged police property will be made to pay monetary compensation. As a threat from the person responsible for maintaining public order in the state, it was a singularly weak response to rioting mobs that were so large that they had forced West Bengal to ask for paramilitary forces from the Union government in order to quell the violence.

The Baduria riots are one in a long line of communal disturbances that the state of West Bengal has seen. This includes the 2010 Deganga riots, 2013 Canning riots and riots in Dhulagarh and Kaliachak last year. While these riots are low intensity in the Indian context – given that they resulted in no deaths – the frequency of their occurrence is a dark portent for Bengali society.

The response of the West Bengal government to these clashes suffers from political biases of the people in power. Given that the Trinamool government enjoys considerable support from the state’s Muslims, the Bharatiya Janata Party often accuses it of appeasing the community.

There is considerable truth in this charge. The Trinamool has often taken help from the Muslim Right in West Bengal. It is, for example, rather egregious that Idris Ali is a Trinamool Lok Sabha MP – Ali was given a ticket after he was accused of inciting violent demonstrations in Kolkata in 2007 over Taslima Nasreen’s stay in the state. Ali accused her of blasphemy. The Trinamool has also taken the crutch of highly regressive and incendiary schemes like giving out stipends to Muslim clerics.

This latest friction comes after West Bengal has enjoyed a golden spell of communal peace. Since the 1960s, large-scale communal riots – once a regular feature of Bengali life – have been absent from the state. Even today, West Bengal is a relatively calm place compared to other states in the Union. In 2015, for example, while Uttar Pradesh saw 155 communal riots and Madhya Pradesh, 92, the number for West Bengal was 32. Incidents such as the 2002 Gujarat pogrom or the 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh, where state-complicity led to mass killings, are unthinkable in Bengal.

Yet, the fact that the state is unable to control law and order without help from Union government forces is a very worrying trend for the future. Moreover, rioting on the ground is immediately followed by intense communalisation on social media, further vitiating the atmosphere. At least in one case, prominent supporters of the BJP have been seen spreading false rumours of communal rioting in Kolkata city.

It is clear that Mamata Banerjee needs to move on this communalisation with an iron fist without thinking of her own party’s short-term political calculation. She needs to clamp down on rioters as well as people fanning the flames of polarisation in order to keep West Bengal’s social fabric intact.

Subscribe to “The Daily Fix” by either downloading Scroll’s Android app or opting for it to be delivered to your mailbox. For the rest of the day’s headlines click here.

If you have any concerns about our coverage of particular issues, please write to the Readers’ Editor at readerseditor@scroll.in.

Punditry

  1. The new Goods and Services tax has a highly complex basic structure that must be simplified immediately, writes Bibek Debroy in the Indian Express.
  2. Sikkim standoff: India cannot afford to allow China to change the status quo, argues Srinath Raghavan in the Hindustan Times.
  3. Completely normalising relations with Israel, as this first visit by an India prime minister irrevocably does, is an important step, write Dhruva Jaishankar & Shruti Godbole in the Economic Times.

Giggle

Don’t Miss

In the West Bengal area where communal riots broke out, BJP officials claim a surge in membership, reports Subrata Nagchoudhury

Biswas said: “That the BJP has become a headache for the Trinamool Congress here was evident when the Baduria municipality chairman, Tushar Singh, while addressing Muslims on Monday said: ‘We will not do anything here that gives the BJP some oxygen.’ It is obvious that such words are to appease the minorities.”

In the past, the BJP has repeatedly accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “pandering to Muslims”.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The qualities of a high-performance luxury sedan

A lesson in harnessing tremendous power to deliver high performance.

Gone are the days when the rich and successful would network during a round of golf, at least in the Silicon Valley. As reported by New York Times, ‘auto-racing has become a favourite hobby for the tech elites’. However, getting together on a race track would require a machine that provides control while testing extreme limits. Enter the Mercedes-AMG range of cars.

Mercedes-AMG’s rise from a racing outfit to a manufacturer of peak performance cars is dotted with innovations that have pushed the boundaries of engineering. While the AMG series promises a smooth driving experience, its core is made up of a passion for motorsports and a spirit that can be summarized in two words – power and performance. These integral traits draw like-minded people who share and express Mercedes-AMG’s style of performance.

The cars we drive say a lot about us, it’s been said. There are several qualities of an AMG performance luxury sedan that overlap with the qualities of its distinguished owner. For instance, creating an impression comes naturally to both, so does the ambition to always deliver an exceptional performance. However, the strongest feature is that both the owner and the AMG marque continually challenge themselves in pursuit of new goals, stretching the limits of performance.

This winning quality comes alive, especially, in the latest Mercedes-AMG marque – the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+. With the most powerful engine to have ever been installed in an E-class, this undisputed performance sedan promises immense power at the driver’s command. With 612 HP under its hood, the car achieves 0-100 km/h in just a few seconds - 3.4 to be precise. Moreover, the car comes with the latest driver-assistance technology that promises intelligent control and provides an agile and responsive ride.

But, the new AMG is not just about work (or traction in car lingo). One of its core features is to provide its owners a challenge on the race track. Its drift mode, which converts the vehicle into a pure rear-wheel drive, offers pure exhilaration and adds a work-play dynamic to the car. In that sense, the new AMG is a collaborator of sorts - one that partners with its owner to create an impression through performance. And on the weekends, the car pushes him/her to express absolute power using its race mode with a thunderous roar of the engine - the pure sound of adrenalin. This balance between work and play has been achieved using cutting-edge features in the car that together create an almost intuitive driver-machine relationship.

If you’re looking for a car that shares your enthusiasm for driving, you’ll find a partner in the new AMG. However, buying an AMG is not just about owning a powerhouse on wheels, it’s also about adopting a driving philosophy in which power is just the starting point - the main skill lies in how you manoeuvre that power on the road. A performance sedan in its sportiest form, Mercedes-AMG’s latest model takes vehicle performance to an unmatched level. A decade ago, this amount of speed and power in a luxury 4-door model would be un-thinkable.

Play

The new Mercedes-AMG comes with a host of individualisation options through designo, the artistic side of Mercedes’s innovation, so the car becomes an extension of the owner’s distinctive personality. An expressive design with a new radiator grille and a muscular front apron showcase its athleticism. A new-age driver environment, widescreen cockpit, the AMG performance steering wheel and sports seat delivers an intensive driving experience. With the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+, AMG has created an undisputed performance sedan that can rip the race track as well as provide reliable luxury sedan-duty. To know more about the most powerful E-class of all time, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes-Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.