NEW DELHI: Bengal continued to simmer for the third day as a series of fresh protests erupted in parts of the state on Saturday. The state is witnessing protests since Thursday over the alleged controversial remarks of now suspended former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma and former Delhi BJP media head Naveen Kumar Jindal against Prophet Muhammad.
It turned violent after Friday’s protests, called by Bengal Imam Association head Md Yahya, took broader shape with scores of people, especially from minority communities coming out on the streets of Kolkata’s Park Circus and other parts of the state.
Though Md Yahya condemned the violent protests and called for peace, the light was already lit by then. Amid incidents of clashes, the protestors were demanding the arrest of Sharma, in particular.
In Howrah, the situation turned out of control as the agitators blocked the south-eastern railway track which compelled the authorities to cancel five trains and divert the rest.
Prohibitory orders, under Section 144 of CrPC, have been imposed in large parts of Howrah till June 13. Internet services were also suspended in the district to prevent the spread of unlawful activities and rumours.
Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar and his supporters were arrested while on their way to violence-hit Howrah. Earlier, the BJP leader had claimed that he was kept under house arrest and was not allowed to meet the victims of the Bengal riots.
BJP’s Saumitra Khan writes to Union home minister Amit Shah requesting him to deploy a central force as Khan said that “no one is safe in West Bengal”.
Talking to The New Indian, BJP’s Dilip Ghosh, the national vice president said, “Party and government have taken action on people involved (Sharma and Jindal). Every state government is making efforts to curtail this ongoing violence, what is the Bengal government doing?”
“The govt has perennially shown a soft attitude toward them and commoners are bearing all the heat. The government neither wants good governance nor development but only runs their government,” Ghosh further adds.
Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday tweeted on the worsening law and order situation in the state.
“Inaction @chief_west@WBPolice @KolkataPolice is unfortunate endorsement of the criminality of law violators. Appeal #MamataBanerjee to sternly deal with law breakers. All involved be identified and arrested,” Dhankar tweeted.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, MP, Trinamool Congress said, “District administration has arrested over 70 people till now. Anyone who is trying to create a disturbance, will not be spared. Governor Dhankhar and BJP leaders are making provocative statements on the issue. The root cause of this entire controversy is that it is the BJP who committed the sin and now the people of India are paying for their sins.”
“Three days back, we had raised these issues and demanded the arrest of Nupur Sharma, but the BJP again indulged in a cover-up. Nupur Sharma was only suspended. No legal action was initiated by the Government of India for reasons better known to them,” Roy added.
On the Bengal BJP chief’s arrest, Roy said that BJP leaders in the state want to be on the ground because they want to fan violence.
I condemn the recent heinous and atrocious hatespeech remarks by a few disastrous BJP leaders, resulting in not only spread of violence, but also division of the fabric of the country, leading to disturbance of peace and amity. (1/3)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) June 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a statement, said that some political parties are behind the recent violence in the state.
“As I have said before, violent incidents have been taking place in Howrah for two days now. There are some political parties behind this who want to cause riots. But these things will not be tolerated and strict action will be taken against all of them who indulge in violence. Why should the common people suffer because of BJP’s sins?” Banerjee, who is also the home minister of the state, said.
Other than Bengal, UP, Karnataka, Delhi and Jharkhand as well as Jammu and Kashmir had witnessed protests against the controversial remarks, leading to damage to properties and arrests.