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7 Jul 2017

Strife in Basirhat town, slur on MLA - Govt glare on two organisations suspected of fuelling tension

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya and Pranesh Sarkar, TT, Calcutta, July 6: The Bengal government feels two organisations claiming to represent two communities are fuelling the strife in Basirhat, the focal point of which shifted from the rural belt to the town today.
Violent protests broke out in Basirhat town today after police picked up some suspects following the alleged intervention of Trinamul MLA Dipendu Biswas. The MLA described the charge as baseless.
Biswas, the Basirhat South MLA and a former footballer who returned from Barcelona yesterday, went to the local police station, following which raids were conducted in Khapra, Dhopapara and Godwonpara.
The raids ended with the police picking up around 15 men, all of whom happened to be from one community. According to sources, all those who were picked up had a role in fomenting tension over the past few days.
The sources said the swoop angered a section of the people belonging to the community of those arrested. A crowd of several hundred then launched a protest that soon snowballed into arson, vandalism and clashes with the police in the afternoon.

Political affiliations dissipated in the sectarian backlash and several Trinamul supporters were said to be part of the crowd that also attacked the party's offices.
Sources said Biswas was ordered to leave the area after the first reports of trouble reached the Trinamul leadership. Shortly after, at least two party offices were ransacked and an attack was allegedly attempted on Biswas's house.
A senior Trinamul leader said the party was upset with the 35-year-old first-time MLA's intervention. "He was away all this while and wanted to make a mark. What he ensured was unnecessary zeal in an already sensitive situation, rekindling trouble," he said.
"He managed to turn Trinamul against Trinamul in Basirhat town," he added.
Told about the allegation, Biswas said: "I just returned from Europe yesterday. All sorts of rumours are being spread about me. Baseless lies and absurd allegations. The party has not conveyed any orders to me."
"My home has been ransacked. My family is in a state of panic. A dozen Trinamul offices in Basirhat were ransacked too. I am keeping the leadership posted on everything. I will answer to my leadership," he added.
Some Trinamul leaders pointed out that the Congress's Baduria MLA, Quazi Abdur Rahim, was partly responsible for the area being "relatively peaceful" today.
"Dilu (Rahim) has been doing his best to help restore normality to the area, working with the local people, administration and the leadership of all parties..... Some of the credit for Baduria now being relatively peaceful goes to him," said a district Trinamul leader.
Earlier in the day, police sources said several hundred people had gathered near the police station and tried to breach barricades to break in and free the men who were detained. "We had to resort to teargas shelling and lathi-charge to disperse the mob," an officer said.
Police sources said over a dozen cars were set ablaze and several shops ransacked.
"After this, the crowd divided itself into three, one of which came towards the police station without attempting an attack. The two other groups went around other parts of the town," said an officer.#"Smaller assemblies have been taking place at various places till late this evening, although we have been keeping a watch," the officer added.
Sources in the administration said what unfolded today would please those trying to foment tension and polarise, because communal sentiment took precedence over political affiliation.
Despite today's incident in Basirhat, Nabanna is not going to seek any additional central forces at the moment.
"We are keeping a close watch on the situation. It appears that the intensity of the problem has come down and is now confined to Basirhat town. If required, we will seek more central forces," said a state government official.
At the moment, four companies of the Border Security Force are deployed in the area. Nabanna sources said besides Section 144, several other restrictions are being imposed in the troubled areas.
Officials in Nabanna said it had been decided to crack down on the activities of the two organisations in North 24-Parganas that had been identified by the government as responsible for fanning the flames.
"They have played pivotal roles in causing the problems and they represent both sides of the trouble-makers," said an official. "The entry of anybody whose presence in the area might cause a flare-up will be restricted."
Shah team
BJP national president Amit Shah today constituted a team of party leaders to visit Baduria and prepare a report.
The team would comprise BJP general secretary and Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and party leaders Om Mathur, Meenakshi Lekhi and Satyapal Singh. The date for the visit was not announced but party leaders said the team would leave for Bengal within the next couple of days.
A Left delegation led by Mohammad Salim and Sujan Chakraborty also plans to visit Basirhat, Baduria and Deganga tomorrow.
Clash death
A 65-year-old Basirhat resident who suffered stab injuries in the skull and neck during a clash last night died in Calcutta's RG Kar Medical College and Hospital this morning.
Suspected Trinamul supporters today did not allow a BJP team led by Vijayvargiya and state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh to meet the family of Kartick Ghosh at the hospital.
The BJP claimed Ghosh, who died around 8am today, was a party supporter.
Hospital sources said three others injured in the same clash last night were under treatment there.
Vijayvargiya later alleged that the "Trinamul supporters" were using abusive language and thumping on the bonnet of his car outside the hospital while the police stood mute spectators.
"It is very unfortunate to see such a partisan role of the police force. There is no democracy here," he said.

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