One person was killed and at least eight injured in incidents of violence in parts of West Bengal during celebrations on Ram Navami on Sunday, ANI reported.
Fifty-five-year-old Sheikh Shahjahan died during a clash between the residents and police in the state’s Purulia district. “The procession participants decided to take the route through Bhursa village,” The Times of India quoted an unidentified police official as saying.
“The local panchayat pradhan refused to allow access,” the official said. “At this time, rumours were spread that some motorcycles belonging to the procession members were burnt and a clash ensued.” Shahjahan’s relatives, however, said that he was not involved in the clash and was attacked when he was on his way to take a bath.
The other incident was reported in Bardhaman district, where unidentified people attacked a pandal set up by workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday night.
At least four people were injured in each incident.
After the attack on the pandal in Bardhaman, the BJP alleged that the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress was behind it. A police investigation is under way.
Right-wing groups organised armed processions in parts of the state, IANS reported. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said armed rallies would be allowed only for organisations that have celebrated Ram Navami with weapons for more than a decade. “We are not against organisations holding Ram Navami processions but they have to be peaceful,” she said.
The BJP chief in the state, Dilip Ghosh, participated with a sword in a rally in Kharagpur. He said the participation of people showed the country was “approaching Ram Rajya”. Ghosh was booked last year on Ram Navami for a similar procession.
“This has been an old tradition here to conduct armed rallies,” Ghosh told IANS. “Those who did not want it [Ram Rajya], are also wanting it now. I am sure Ram Mandir would also be built in Ayodhya.”
Children also reportedly carried knives and swords in a rally in Purulia district, despite a directive by the state’s child rights panel. The rally was allegedly organised by the Bajrang Dal. The police claimed that they took away the weapons from the children.
“Arms are nothing but symbols,” BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was with the Trinamool Congress until last year, said. “No one carries arms in the rally to indulge in fights. I think the Trinamool government is trying to create an unnecessary controversy over the armed rallies on Ram Navami.” Roy was part of an armed rally in North 24 Parganas district.
Members and ministers of the Trinamool Congress also organised processions in parts of the state, PTI reported.