Friendly match between Sangh Parivar and Police in West Bengal

Causes of the Telinipara riot in West Bengal

Kolkata: A communal riot erupted in Telinipara on 7 April. The local police shamelessly cooperated in the execution of a plan laid down by the Sangh Parivar. State chief minister and ministers looked the other way while this was being carried out. It seemed as if the state government has surrendered before the communal dance macabre of the Sangh Parivar in the name of “Ram Navmi” procession.

A delegation comprising of important West Bengal Muslim community leaders visited the area to enquire about the riot and its aftermath. Local people informed the delegation that when Muslims objected to the proposed route of the Ramnavmi procession through Muslim localities, the O.C. of Bhareswar police station, Mr Majumdar, and the S.P. of Hoogly district opposed the Muslim demand saying that the road is nobody’s property. Local Muslims informed the delegation that a peace committee meeting, held in the presence of the SDO and Addl. S. P., had decided that the procession will follow its old route and that it will not take any other route. Then why the route was changed? Local Muslim leaders had asked the S. P. for five minutes to consult and inform him of their decision. Before the five minutes would pass, bombs started to explode and within no time a number of Muslim houses were ransacked and looted. Some Muslims had booked flats in a building in a non-Muslim area and some Muslims had already started living there. These Muslims and their flats were attacked without any warning. The rioters damaged two mosques as well. Some stupid Muslim youth reacted unwisely to these attacks and caused damage to some non-Muslim houses which was objected to by the local Muslim leaders.

Next day, after the eruption of the riot, phone calls started coming to Kolkata-based Muslim leaders conveying the seriousness of the situation. One of the callers said that Master Maqsood, a teacher, went to register his complaint in the Bhareswar police station against the ransacking and looting of his house. His complaint was torn by the O.C. who told him to sit in the police station. We spoke to the O.C. over phone. He denied this and said that he had asked Master Maqsood to sit but he went away without informing the police. Thereafter, we phoned Master Maqsood to ascertain the facts. He confirmed that his complaint has been torn and that he is still detained in the police station. Now we spoke to the S.P. Hoogly who said that he will enquire about it. After some time Master Maqsood was allowed to leave the police station but his complaint was not registered. Instead, it was torn into pieces and thrown into the dustbin.

We spoke to a number of people in Telinipara and advised them that they should go in groups of 20-30 persons to the police station to lodge their complaints. They said, all such persons will be arrested because by now all who could speak fearlessly have been detained and FIRs have been registered against them so that no Muslim leader dares to approach the police station. They said, FIRs have been registered against the CPM councillor Muhammad Shahid, the former Congress councillor Shahid Mukarram and Trinamool Congress leader Firoz Khan so that they keep a distance from the police station and refrain from helping the victims. On the contrary, the BJP councillor Panna Lal is free to move around. Manoj Upadhyay is chairman of Bhareswar Municipality representing Trinamool Congress but, in fact, he works for the RSS and BJP. He has come to the fold of Trinamool from the RSS. Local Trinamool Congress leaders have complained for years that instead of Trinamool this person works for the RSS, yet Trinamool leaders do not take such complaints seriously. Some 8-10 Muslim members of Trinamool went after the riot to see Farhad Hakeem, West Bengal minister for urban development and municipal affairs. They told him that the violence occurred due to the conspiracy of Police and BJP. Farhad Hakeem rejected this and claimed that M.I.M. is behind the riot. But he kept quiet when he was told that M.I.M. has no presence in this area.

It is our observation that communal riots occur in any part of the country due to the incompetence of the government or as a result of a secret understanding and collusion with communal elements. Wherever the government is opposed to the communal elements or opposes communal riots, police and government officers from top to bottom understand the government policy and do not dare to go against it. Therefore, riots do not occur in such places and even if some small skirmishes do take place, government officers know how to control them in no time.

For all its shortcomings, the previous government in West Bengal was forcefully opposed to communal riots; therefore police officers from top to bottom did not go against the government policy. As a result, the riot-mongers were afraid and did not dare start a riot. The orientation of Mamta Bannerji government is different from that of the CPIM. Bannerji was attached to the Congress culture before she found herself abandoned. For some time she became a member of the BJP-led NDA which allowed a large number of Sangh Parivar people to join her party. Today, Bannerji’s party is opposed to the BJP while the Jan Sanghis in her party remain faithful to the RSS and BJP. Such people easily influence the police department.

Telinipara Muslims have for years complained to the Trinamool Congress that Manoj Upadhyay, the chairman of Bhareswar Municipality which includes Telinipara, is a Jan Sanghi and works for the RSS although officially he belongs to Trinamool. Muslims belonging to Trinamool have been ignored whenever they complained to the party against Upadhyay. Large-scale riots erupted in Marwarikal and Naihatti in October 2016. Police role was not good during those riots. Initially, Muslims did not want to take out a Muharram juloos or Akhara procession but the police taunted them that they are afraid and urged them to take out the procession as the police will be there to protect them. But the police played spectators when the riots erupted and continued for days. A delegation of Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat West Bengal visited the riot-affected areas at the time and found that the police played there the same role which it has now played in Telinipara. The delegation had met a senior police officer of Barackpore Commissionery who told the delegation that the powers of Muslims officers have been curtailed, that they are helpless as they are not allowed to do anything.

The Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat West Bengal delegation visited Telinipara on 19 April 2017 and found that all FIRs against local Muslim leaders have been registered in the local police station with a view to render them helpless and this has happened as a result of pre-planning.

The delegation met the police officer of Bhareswar police station and complained to him against the behaviour of the police which was not appropriate during the riot. The O.C., Mr. Majumdar, said that they have done this in order to control the situation. The delegation told him that his own and the SP’s role during the riot was not appropriate as both of them advocated the passage of the procession through a new route. Mr. Majumdar said he did not support the procession but only told the Muslim leaders not to oppose since only a vehicle with 10-15 persons wanted to pass through the Muslim area. Mr. Majumdar stuck to his lies the same way he did earlier when he told us that Master Maqsood had left the police station while the said person was still detained by him at the time.

We observe that no minister or even the local MLA has found it necessary to visit the riot-affected area although the local MLA is also the state’s culture minister. What else can prove the government’s carelessness and failure to take notice of a serious incident?

The Mushawarat delegation included Maulana Nemat Husain Habibi, Abdul Aziz, Tahiruddin and Abdul Bari among others.

(Report prepared by Abdul Aziz)

(Translated from Urdu by Zafarul-Islam Khan)


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