Several people have been injured in communal clashes in Bengal’s Hazinagar and Halisahar in North 24 Parganas district since Wednesday, The Indian Express reported. Officials said around 30 houses, several shops and vehicles were either ransacked or set ablaze in the violence, forcing many to flee their homes. The area is now facing a shortage of food and medicines. The violence also spread to Chanchal subdivision of Malda, Chandannagar in Hooghly and Kharagpur city in Paschim [West] Medinipur, The Hindu reported
Officials said they are trying to verify how many people have been affected by the clashes in the highly-populated areas, but peg the figure at a minimum of 20. Police personnel said the violence was sparked by a low-intensity explosion that occurred during a Muharram procession on Wednesday, which led to retaliatory attacks on Hindu homes.
The clashes began in a neigbourhood with a mixed demographic in Hazinagar, but spread to the Hindu-dominated locality on Patterson Road and Muslim-dominated area near Hazinagar Chhoti Masjid. A police station was attacked in Chanchal, after which officers lathicharged a mob, The Hindu reported.
Commanding Officer of the Eastern Frontier Rifles, 1st Battalion, Rishikesh Meena, said the situation was "under control" and entry to the area is being monitored. According to The Indian Express, Inspector General (law and order) Anuj Sharma, Superintendent of Police (Barasat) Tanmoy Roy Choudhury and district administration officials refused to comment on the situation.
The Opposition claimed that clashes were triggered by the government's decision to ban the immersion of Durga idols on the day after Vijaya Dashami, as it coincided with Muharram. The Calcutta High Court had criticised the Trinamool Congress government's decision as an attempt to “appease the minority section”. Leader of the Opposition, Abdul Mannan, referred to the violence as a complete “administrative failure”. Mannan said the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were using the decision to "create further unrest".
State BJP secretary Sayantan Basu has said the party will prepare a report on the violence for the Centre and hold a protest against the clashes.