Atleast 12 Communal Riots in West Bengal Over Muharram-Durga Puja Tensions

Reports are coming in of multiple communal clashes across West Bengal during the Durga Puja & Muharram procession of Oct 11 & 12. This news is almost completely absent from mainstream media, but concurring accounts on social media tell a story of large scale disturbances.

As per human rights group Hindu Samhati,  there have been reports of communal disturbances during Muharram processions and Maa Durga immersions from the following 12 places of West Bengal:

1. Taltali village, Jalangi PS (Police Station). Murshidabad dist.
2. Andul Argori village under Sankrail PS in Howrah dist.
3. Manikpur Beltala, Sankrail PS., Howrah dist.
4. Chandannagar Urdibazar and Telenipara, Hogghly dist.
5. Hajinagar, near Naihati, North 24 Parganas dist.
6. Kalaberia vill. Bhagabanpur PS. Poorba Medinipur dist.
7. Ballabhpara Ghat Hatkhola, Katwa PS. Bardhaman dist.
8. Khargapur Golbazar market. Paschim Medinipur dist.
9. Kharba village, Chanchal PS. Malda dist.
10. Rishipara, just behind Kaliachak PS.,Malda dist.
11. Aarapur village under English Bazar PS in Malda dist.
12. Rajua village under Ketugram PS in Bardhaman dist

It seems that the first clash occurred on 11 Oct at ‘Amra K’jon’ Durgapuja pandal at Argori village, very near to Sankrail BDO office, in Howrah district – just 25 km west from Kolkata. According to reports, the clash was triggered when the Puja Committee protested against some Muslim men who were misbehaving with Hindu women. RAF (Rapid Action Force) was deployed by administration and ultimately 6 Hindus and 6 Muslims were arrested.

There are reports of injuries in the ensuing clashes, and massive destruction of electrical equipment owned by Hindus. Local Hindus are planning to lodge an FIR at Sankrail police station against the members of ‘Evening Star Club’ of Halder Para. ‘Argori Mor Byabosayee Samity’ is taking this initiative. Durga puja immersion in the village had to be escorted by police.

Damage & looting of Hindu property in Kharagpur, Murshidabad (Image Credit: Hindu Samhati, @anirvanas)

Subsequently, there were clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Beltala near Manikpur in Sankrail PS on Oct 12. One Samesh Roy’s head was fractured due to knife attack, and his condition is serious. Few other injured include Rajkumar Moshol and Surajit Maji. The situation continues to be tense.

Also on Oct 12, some of the most serious communal clashes occurred at Kharagpur Golbazar market & in Murshidabad (a district with 66.3% Muslim population; Muslim population in Dinajpur-Maldah-Murshidabad-Birbhum region is 52% as per the 2011 Census). Many Hindu shops reportedly have been looted and totally gutted. The situation continues to be serious and tense.

Incidentally, Kharagpur Golbazar had witnessed the death of minor Hindu Dalit youth Rohit Tanti allegedly at hands of Muslim attackers on 18 Sept.

Below is a video reportedly showing the clashes in Kharagpur Golbazar –

Corroborating reports of clashes in Hajinagar, near Naihati, North 24 Parganas district have also come in from other social media accounts

This video claims to show a Hindu house being attacked in Naihati –

Background – Unprecedented restrictions on Maa Durga murti immersion

This year, Durga Puja immersion or ‘Bijoy Dashami’ fell on Oct 11, with Muharram occurring the very next day on 12 Oct. As per information gathered from various sources, it appears that Mamta Banerjee’s administration decided to restrict the Durga Puja immersion in order to facilitate the processions (tazia) on the eve of Moharram –

  • The bigger public puja pandals were told to immerse their murtis after Moharram.
  • Durga Pujas held in households and those organised by apartment complexes or societies, were told to immerse the murtis before 4 pm on Bijoya Dashami.

Three petitioners, representing two households and an apartment complex, approached the Kolkata High Court to challenge this Government decision. On October 6, a single-member bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta passed an order which held the time limits set by the West Bengal government for Maa Durga murti immersion as “arbitrary” and said the order was a “clear endeavour” by the state to “appease the minority section of the public”.

In his order, Justice Dutta allowed the three petitioners to immerse their idols by 8.30 pm on Bijoya Dashami, and said the order would apply to other households or apartment complexes as well.

Noting that “there has never been a holiday” declared by the state or Centre on the eve of Muharram to “facilitate processions (tazia)”, the court said, “The administration has failed to take note of the fact that Moharram is also not the most important festival of people having faith in Islam… To put it curtly, the state government has been irresponsibly brazen in its conduct of being partial to one community, thereby infringing upon the fundamental rights of people worshipping Maa Durga.”

The judge added, “Never has there been a restriction on immersion of Durga idols on Bijoya Dashami at any earlier point of time. It has been brought to the notice of this Bench that in the years 1982 and 1983, Moharram was observed on the day following Bijoya Dashami, but no restriction of the nature impugned herein was imposed.”

Justice Dutta felt that apart from the fact that the restrictions on idol immersion were “unprecedented” in Bengal’s history, there is “no decision in black and white taken either by the civil administration or by the police administration indicating any reason for imposing the impugned restriction”.

However, reports of desecration of Durga murtis and vandalism of pandals have been coming in over the last few weeks from different parts of Bengal – in Howrah, the Durga murti was even urinated upon. In other areas like Bharatpur, Murshidabad, the Durga pandals were forcefully covered up by administration in response to Muslim demands for Muharram.

Durga Puja pandal covered up to appease Muslim sentiments; murtis vandalized

The TMC Government in West Bengal has bended over backwards to appease its Muslim votebank, which is for the most part controlled by the fanatical Muslim clergy. Even in Kanglapahari village, for 4 years 300 Hindu families were denied the right to hold Durga Puja due to objections of 25 Muslim families. That ban by the State Government was finally overturned by a recent Kolkata High Court order after a petition was filed by Hindu Samhati. Despite the court orders, the administration still tried to stymie the Durga Puja procession by imposing Section 144 (prohibiting assembly of more than four people in an area) in Kanglapahari – but the villagers perseverance and devotion finally paid off and Durga Puja was celebrated with full vigor.

West Bengal is a reminder to the entire nation that appeasement politics results in only one outcome – rise of Islamic radicalism, separatism and complete break-down of law & order. Our secular-liberal media, intellectual, political, judicial and bureaucratic class will never acknowledge that their much celebrated ‘Idea of India’ & ‘secularism’ have failed – but the ordinary citizen on the street does not have the luxury of living in a fool’s paradise anymore.

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