Two more people died in clashes in the aftermath of violence during Ram Navami celebrations in West Bengal on Monday, taking the toll to three, The Times of India reported.
One person died in Kankinara in the North 24 Parganas district while another died in Raniganj in the Paschim Bardhaman district. Violence also broke out in Kandi in Murshidabad district.
“The clashes were incited in a systematic manner,” the daily quoted an unidentified police officer as saying. “Processions deviated from their original routes at these places and processionists tried to forcibly enter a neighbourhood populated by one community at one of these places. We are monitoring the situation. Steps are being taken to restore peace.”
The violence in Kakinara erupted when a few people tried to raze a bust of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Shots were reportedly fired in the ensuing violence. A balloon seller, identified as Mohammad Maqsood Hussain, was shot dead in the crossfire.
In Raniganj, an altercation began when residents asked the people participating in a rally to lower the volume of music. Several shops were looted and some were set on fire in the violence that followed. Five policemen were among those injured. “We, along with the administration, are conducting peace meetings,” the mayor of Asansol, Jitendra Tiwari, said.
People organised a Ram Navami rally in Murshidabad’s Kandi with swords and sticks, and reportedly attacked policemen who attempted to stop them. The police baton charged the crowd but some entered the empty police station and attempted to set a police vehicle on fire. Seven people, including a child, three journalists and two policemen, were injured in the violence. The police have detained 15 people, Murshidabad Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kumar said.
Meanwhile, the police on Monday filed a case against state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Dilip Ghosh for allegedly brandishing weapons at a Ram Navami rally in Kharagpur, the Hindustan Times reported. The non-bailable case was registered against Ghosh for allegedly violating the Arms Act, Kharagpur’s Additional Superintendent of Police Y Raghubangshi said. The BJP’s Mahila Morcha President Locket Chatterjee is reportedly facing a similar case in Birbhum district.
The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Monday summoned two Bajrang Dal members on April 12 to answer allegations that children were involved in armed rallies during Ram Navami celebrations, The Indian Express reported.
Suraj Sharma, the group’s Purulia district coordinator, and Gourab Singh, the Bajrang Dal’s additional coordinator in Purulia, have been called for questioning. “The commission has summoned them on the basis of preliminary information given by the district magistrate of Purulia,” the panel’s Chairperson Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborty said. “We are waiting for the status report from other district administrations and will act accordingly.”
Ten children, carrying weapons, had allegedly taken part in a few rallies in Purulia. One person was killed in clashes in the district on Sunday. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday directed the state administration to take strong action against those who organised such rallies. Those indulging in such hooliganism are trying to “politicise and defame Hinduism”, the chief minister had claimed.