Clashes between two communities in Kolkata’s Ekbalpore area has sparked off a political storm. The BJP has hit the streets in protest, while the ruling Trinamool Congress has accused the saffron party of fanning the flames of communal unrest. Mounting tension between two communities over putting up flags during the celebration of Milad –un- Nabi escalated into violence in which several houses and vehicles were destroyed and the Ekbalpore police station was vandalised.
On October 10, the Kolkata police imposed prohibitory orders (Section 144) in the area to stay in force until October 12. Earlier in the day, Sukanta Majumdar, president of the West Bengal wing of the BJP, was detained by the police on his way to Ekbalpore and was released the same evening. Claiming that the victims of the violence belonged to a Scheduled Tribe, Majumdar asked for an inquiry by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. “They can investigate and see for themselves the kind of atrocities committed against these poor ST people,” he said. The BJP organised protest rallies in different parts of the State.
The Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah requesting immediate deployment of Central forces “so that the spark can be extinguished before it turns into a wildfire”. While the BJP has alleged that one particular community had borne the brunt of the violence, the Trinamool accused it of trying to “incite people and create lawlessness”.
Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh commented that the BJP ought to look into the law and order situation in the States where it was in power. “West Bengal is a peaceful State. If someone tries to incite unrest, the police will arrest or detain that person. The police and the local people of Ekbalpore have been successful in bringing back peace to the area,” said Ghosh.
Md Salim, secretary of the CPI(M)’s Bengal unit, said: “To divert the attention of the people from corruption, the BJP and the Trinamool are indulging in the politics of riots.”