Communal tension is reportedly growing in Malda’s Koligram after the administration gave permission for a Muharram procession to pass through the village, breaking a longstanding consensus that neither Muslims nor Hindus will be allowed to hold festival processions in the village. Hindus are still not allowed to hold Durga Puja in the village.
In fact, a riot had broken out in Koligram in 2016 after police caved into Islamist pressure and unilaterally allowed Basi Karbala (return procession of Muharram) through the village that year. It appears that the administration has still not learnt its lesson, and this year again the same Muharram procession has been allowed, whereas Hindus are still barred from holding Durga Puja.
Observers say that this could very well be an example of the vindictive politics common in West Bengal – Hindus are dominant in the part of Malda district where Koligram falls, and they had voted enmasse for BJP in the recent Panchayat elections. So the decision to allow Muharram procession in the village while denying Durga Puja is being seen as ‘punishment’ for the Hindus who dared defy the ruling TMC diktat.
Hindus in Koligram, Malda have been compelled to build blockades on many roads after they came to know of the administration’s one-sided decision. Women and children are also holding sit-ins to register their protest.
Extortion for Muharram
In another example of the emboldenment of Muslim hooligans in West Bengal under the Mamata Banerjee regime, a team of PWD officials returning after inspection of a bridge at Islampur, North Dinajpur (the same area where 2 Hindu students were killed in police firing during protests against Urdu imposition) was reportedly attacked by people participating in a Muharram procession at Raghabpur, near Botolbari junction.
There are also reports of vehicles being forcibly stopped to collect donations for Muharram at NH-31 in Uttar Dinajpur, and a pre Muharram tazia procession with weapons carried out in trains of Sealdah-Ranaghat line which had injured several passengers and caused a major train blockage in Sodepur.
West Bengal Police seems to be completely missing in action as the common man suffers. CM Mamata Banerjee was in Germany earlier this week to garner investments for the state – the highlight of the meet was two local industrialists from Bengal who had accompanied the CM announcing their expansion plans from German soil.
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