Communal riot in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal


From 2011 onwards, West Bengal has recorded an average of 20 communal flare-ups every year. There were 27 such incidents in 2015, 32 in 2016 and 58 incidents that came to light in 2017. Writes Ashlyn Davis

The post-election violence meted out to the Hindu supporters of Mamata Banerjee’s opposition has finally attracted the focus of India’s national media. But the state has witnessed Muslims wreak havoc on the administration and people of Bengal throughout her previous terms. From 2011 onwards, West Bengal has recorded an average of 20 communal flare-ups every year. There were 27 such incidents in 2015, 32 in 2016 and 58 incidents that came to light in 2017.

Though the 2011 Census establishes that Muslims comprise about 27% of the state’s population, the actual number is believed to be significantly higher, as millions of Bangladeshis have illegally entered the border state through its pervious boundaries and compromised border security arrangements. Gaining numbers, the Islamic lobby in the state is now calling the shots, while the timid and gentle Bengali Hindus have been degraded to the de facto status of second class citizens; educated and qualified Bengali Hindus are now migrating to other cities of India, or moving to other countries altogether. The present situation of West Bengal is not very different from what Bengal endured during the 1947 partition.

A Muslim cleric’s killing during a robbery and the alleged apathy of the police resulted in an anti-Hindu pogrom in Canning on February 21, 2013. Muslim mobs vented their ire on the Hindus by burning down over 200 Hindu homes in the villages of Goladogra, Gopalpur, and Hero Bhanga in the areas surrounding the Canning Police Station, and looted scores of Hindu-owned shops in the Jayanagar police station area. Around 2000 Hindus were left displaced after this turbulence and are still awaiting justice.

On May 5, 2015, a Hindu congregation was attacked with explosives including petrol bombs when it passed by a mosque in Juranpur, Nadia while returning from a religious fair. Four people were killed and eight were injured in this ambush attack carried out from the mosque, but there was no coverage in the mainstream media, and the average intellectual of the state couldn’t care less about this violence, as the casualties of this clash were all Hindus.

Planning and executing mob violence over alleged “blasphemous” remarks against their revered prophet has become a common pastime for some Muslims on the Asian subcontinent. A gargantuan mob of 100,000 such Muslims went on a rampage in Kaliachak in January 2016 to seek revenge over remarks of Kamlesh Tiwari about the prophet of Islam. They attacked the police, vandalized police stations, and blocked railway tracks, disrupting train service for hours, and ran amok around Hindu neighborhoods, destroying Hindu-owned properties. The police of the state stood paralyzed as the rioting Muslims broke barricades and confronted security forces. Over 30 policemen were injured in the clash.

In 2016 again, massive clashes broke out during the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagargh. Chanting slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” (that is, “Long live Pakistan”), rampaging Muslim rioters attacked Hindu areas. Jihadis know that the Hindus are essentially defenseless and are thus easy targets in West Bengal; no administration will lift a finger to rescue them. Hindu areas were found deserted after residents fled their homes, fearing mob violence. The mob burned down the abandoned Hindu-owned homes, but not before looting them.

Triggered by a Facebook post allegedly made by a Hindu minor, a 5000-strong Muslim mob organized an arson attack on Hindu homes, ransacked Hindu-owned shops and blocked roads, thereby hindering travel in the Baduria-Basirhat region in July 2017. The debilitated state police remained incompetent. 200 Hindu homes were targeted. Five Hindu temples were destroyed and two others were vandalized. A 65-year-old was killed and 23 others sustained serious injuries in the violence that extended for a week. This happened right before the Hindu festival Rath Yatra, which attracted the ire of these rioters. A group of 70-90 Muslims tore down nine more Hindu temples, and taking the entire area hostage, demanded that the minor be handed over to them for a Sharia-style penalty.

A massive communal flare-up was reported in Raniganj, Asansol in 2018 after Muslim groups planned and executed armed attacks on the Hindu procession of Ram Navami. Bomb blasts sent tremors through the town. A fierce mob wreaked havoc across Ranigunj, firing weapons and robbing houses and shops. A Rapid Action Force was deployed to restore normalcy; in retaliation, the mob burned several police vehicles. The incident went almost completely unreported, despite the fact that a large number of Hindus were forced to flee the area and settle in safer locations with a smaller Muslim population.

In 2019, an enraged mob of over 100 Muslim men and women descended on the NRS Hospital after a septuagenarian Muslim patient succumbed to a prolonged illness. The mob was mobilized through a Facebook post by a teenage grandson of the deceased. The skullcap-wearing rioters assaulted the resident doctors with stones, batons and makeshift weapons. Two young doctors were severely injured and had to be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and operated on. The police marked their presence at the scene as mute spectators.

In 2020, West Bengal administration yet again failed to deter a communal clash when a frenzied Muslim mob armed with swords and bombs stormed into the streets of Telinipara, Hooghly to set Hindu homes on fire, tear down businesses, and beat Hindus. The incident took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, shortly after they broke their daytime fast. Sporadic clashes broke out when Muslims from the Covid-sensitive Wardibazar area tried to enter the Hindu neighborhood of Telinipara, flouting Covid advisories and the nationwide lockdown, and were met with resistance.

Riots are just as common as the monsoon storm in the coastal state. However, because of the brazen minority-pandering exhibited by the ruling elites, liberals and leftists running various domestic and international media houses have deliberately underreported or completely ignored these incidents.


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