West Bengal Police on Saturday detained a Bharatiya Janata Party delegation of MPs including Meenakshi Lekhi, Om Mathur and Satyapal Singh at Michael Nagar while they tried to enter the restive Basirhat in North-24 Parganas district, ANI reported. The team had rescheduled their trip to the violence-hit area after police denied their request to visit Basirhat on Friday.
Meanwhile, ten IPS officers were transferred and C Sudhakar replaced Bhaskar Mukherjee as Superintendent of Police North 24 Parganas, ANI reported.
BJP President Amit Shah had asked the delegation to visit the site and submit a report on the situation. The three MPs have been taken to the Kolkata airport police station. “Hum saansad hain pata hai aapko? Privilege motion aa jaayega to aap mar jaaoge [Do you know that I am an MP? If we move the privilege motion, you will be finished], Mathur is seen telling a police official on a video shared by ANI.
Lekhi was heard questioning the state administration’s decision to turn down the Ministry of Home Affairs offer to send additional troops to restore normalcy in the riot-hit areas. “It is strange,” Hindustan Times quoted Lekhi as telling police officers. “You are claiming that the situation is under control. Yet you are preventing us from going.”
Meanwhile, a Ministry of Home Affairs official accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of lying about the Centre deploying additional forces. “The state government sent back four Border Security Force companies deployed by the Centre,” the official said. “Now she [Banerjee] is saying the companies were not sent.” The official said the Centre had deployed 11 companies to Darjeeling till date and that the state wants to withdraw one women’s company.
“Several battalions of the state’s East Bengal Rifles and Bengal Armed Police are there. Why are they not deploying them instead of blaming centre? the MHA official said.
On July 7, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had requested political leaders to keep away from the city in North 24 Parganas, while promising that no leader from the Trinamool Congress will visit the district either, NDTV reported.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Roopa Ganguly was stopped at Michael Nagar on Friday, while a Left delegation led by Communist Party of India(Marxist) MP Mohammed Salim was stopped 50 km from Basirhat, ANI reported. A Congress delegation led by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was stopped at Barasat.
Violence ensued in Basirhat on Monday night after a 17-year-old shared an allegedly derogatory post on Facebook about Prophet Mohammad. Clashes broke out as Muslims were angered by the content. One person died and 21 others were injured.