Public profession of the Hindu faith in West Bengal can be life threatening – that is the clear message from WB police and the Mamata Banerjee regime. The latest victim of this persecution by the Islamist-appeasing West Bengal administration is 27-year-old Ayan Pattanayak, who was thrashed to within an inch of his life for daring to stand up for his right to freely practise his religion. Ayan, a poor shopkeeper and the only son of his aged & ailing parents, is currently in a critical condition in Apollo hospital of Kolkata, with severe internal damage to liver and pancreas.
The issue is related to a Harinam Sankirtan (congregational devotional singing) program which has been conducted for the past 20 odd years in the Saraswati bazaar area of Nandigram, East Midnapore district. The Sankirtan is carried out on a plot of land which is vested with the Hari (Bhagwan Vishnu) temple in the area. In 1988, after a title suit was filed over the land, Kolkata High Court had passed an order that the land belongs to the temple.
However no construction has been done on this temple land, and a weekly market is set up there for which vendors are allowed to set up temporary stalls which are usually cleared up soon after. This year, the Sankirtan program was scheduled for 20 March. When the organizers went to make preparations a few days before, they found a temporary structure belonging to one Sheikh Asif Iqbal alias Sheikh Rana, who refused to dismantle his shack despite repeated requests.
On 17 March, Nandigram police & local authorities called representatives of both communities for talks to resolve the matter. This meeting was attended by ASP Midnapore, Joint BDO (Block Development Officer), Nandigram PS (Police Station) Officer In-charge Ajay Mishra, and TMC Block President Meghnath Pal. It was decided at the meeting that since the Hindu program has been conducted for many years, Sheikh Rana’s stall will be removed without further delay.
On 18 March, the Hindus reached the spot and found the stall still there. The Muslim group refused to vacate despite the understanding arrived at the previous day. An altercation ensued and the news reached Nandigram PS. Officer Ajay Mishra and Haldia SDPO Tanmay Mukherjee reached the spot, and instead of asking the Muslism to vacate, they started attacking the Hindus. A lathi charge was carried out and Hindu devotees were brutally thrashed – 7 Hindu men, including Ayan Pattanayak, were detained and later an FIR was filed and all of them were arrested.
But seeing the deteriorating condition of Ayan and realizing that one of those arrested was just 13, police hastily removed these two names from the FIR. Ayan was initially taken to Nandigram hospital, but seeing his critical condition he was first shifted to to Tamluk sadar hospital , and from there to Kolkata Apollo Hospital. He is still not out of danger, and doctors are monitoring his condition closely.
The Harinam Sankirtan program stands cancelled as of now, and Sheikh Rana’s illegal structure is still standing. Human rights group Hindu Samhati alleges that the police is acting at the behest of TMC’s Nandigram MLA and ex-MP from Tamluk, Suvendu Adhikari, who is presently also WB Transport Minister. Incidentally, Adhikari is one of the many TMC leaders accused of corruption in the Saradha chit-fund scam.
Hindu Samhati has submitted the following demands to local administration –
- Immediate vacation of the temple land, for Harinam Sankirtan to be organized forthwith.
- Strict action against the police officers who assaulted devotees.
- Full re-imbursement for Ayan Pattanayak’s treatment and compensation for hurt caused.
The situation in Nandigram continues to be tense.
(We thank Prasun Maitra of Hindu Samhati for speaking to us)
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