West Bengal’s Asansol and Raniganj, billed as the state’s coal belt, witnessed an unprecedented communal tension during this year’s Ram Navami celebrations. One person, identified as Shahjahan, has already succumbed to his injuries, while another person is still reportedly missing.
The communal violence in Bardhaman district’s Raniganj started after an armed Ram Navami procession, organised by the local BJP, insisted on going through a new route, a Muslim majority neighbourhood, reported ABP News.
A report by the PTI said that the ruling Trinamool and BJP had organised several processions to celebrate Ram Navami in the state, with the saffron party dubbing the rallies as a first step towards “uniting the Hindus” of Bengal. One such rally was in the neighbouring Birbhum district, where police registered a case against BJP’s West Bengal Mahila Morcha president Locket Chatterjee for allegedly participating in an armed Ram Navami procession, Superintendent of Police (SP) N Sudheer Kumar said. Locket is a failed Bengali actor, who joined the saffron party after an unsuccessful acting career.
BJP’s Babul Supriyo was elected from Asansol in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The former singer has upped the ante to highlight the Hindutva agenda in Asansol ahead of next year’s general elections.
Meanwhile, the local police told Janta Ka Reporter that the situation had been brought to normalcy although there were still no mobile internet services available. A group of local Hindus have claimed that they were migrating to places, where Muslims were not in majority.
Lord Ram and BJP’s politics
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar on Wednesday held an extraordinary press conference to denounce West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for doing nothing even when ‘Bengal is burning.’ He went on to add that ‘peaceful Ram Navami processions’ were attacked by ‘Trinamool thugs.’ He didn’t explain as to why the so-called peaceful Ram bhakts needed to brandish lethal weapons and insist on going through the Muslim neighbourhood, even though they had no permission for the same.
Javdekar’s press conference was extraordinary also because he addressed the media just minutes after the CBSE had announced the cancellation of two papers for Class 12 and 10, a decision that adversely impacted 28 lakh students across the country. Instead of issuing a clarification as the HRD minister on this important topic, he was seen commenting on an issue, for which many held his own party workers responsible. Communal clashes during this year’s Ram Navami celebrations have also come just days after BJP President Amit Shah confidently told a news channel that his party will win at least 22 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in 2019.
In 2014, the saffron party had won two seats in the state. With four years of anti-incumbency under the Centre’s Narendra Modi government, the party is nervous of its poll prospects in the next general elections.
But, let’s also not lose sight of the failures of the TMC government, which had the wherewithal to check the violence using its law enforcing machinery well in advance. But it didn’t, and that’s where its failure lies. If the government is determined to establish communal harmony in the state, it’s surely capable of doing so. All it needs is the will power, which was found severely lacking in Mamata Banerjee’s case. When Javdekar slams her for being in Delhi forging alliances at a time when her state was facing an acute law and order situation, he surely has a point.
Burning Bihar and Gujarat Model
Similar communal clashes took place in Bihar too during this year’s Ram Navami celebrations. It’s no coincidence that Bihar, which did not witness a single incident of communal riots during the 15 years of the RJD’s rule, is on the boil again. And, desperate attempts to divide the communities are being made by the supporters of the ruling BJP in the state. A master strategist that he is, it seems PM Modi has clearly taken a leaf out of his infamous Gujarat Model book. Just like he strengthened his grip over power as chief minister in Gujarat through a mass anti-Muslim genocide in 2002, his trusted lieutenants appeared to have been instructed to follow the same ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls next year by instilling fear among Muslims in India.
Or else, how do you explain the state government’s utter silence to a union minister’s son openly violating the court’s arrest warrant for inciting communal tension as was the case with Ashwini Kumar Chaube’s son, Arijit Shashwat. (Read our report here).
This was then followed up by Hindutva goons attacking a mosque in Samastipur, where they burnt a local madrasa, burnt the copies of Quran and hoisted a saffron flag atop the local mosque.
With judiciary severely compromised, media’s independence bought and opposition crippled, Modi knows that intimidating Muslims coupled with raising the Hindutva pitch in the name of Lord Ram will help masses forget his incredibly deplorable governance, which has miserably failed on all fronts in the last four years.