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Friday, September 10, 2010

Bengal riot victims live in fear, anxiety Saugar Sengupta | Deganga

Bengal riot victims live in fear, anxiety
Saugar Sengupta | Deganga

September 11, 2010   12:44:55 AM



BJP delegation for action against Trinamool MP

Nights have never been so cruel for the residents of Deganga village in North 24 Parganas, which has seen one community’s members perpetrate terror on another for days together. To make matters worse, the violence - taking place just 45 km from Kolkata -- is backed by local MP Nurul Islam.

“Either kill us or give us a reason to live with dignity. They have torched our houses and shops, looted everything we had,” cried Uttam Saha of Saha Communications, who lost goods worth Rs 4.5 lakh to the bedlam on Monday.

Niranjan Sarkar of Kartickpur said, “I myself saw Nurul Islam shouting at his men, who came in trucks from Beliaghata, Sashan and Basirhat, to ravage the temple.” Overcome with rage and humiliation, he added, “They smashed the Kali and Shani idols after desecrating them.” Nurul, the local Trinamool Congress MP from Basirhaat, had defeated CPI’s Ajoy Chakrabarty in the 2009 general election.

Sandhya (name changed), a B Sc final-year student of Barasat Government College, was one of the few brave girls who dared the sustained onslaught. “We fled from Bangladesh to Barasat. Now where do they want us to go? You do something for us or tell us a way to finish ourselves,” she pleaded with Dr Chandan Mitra and Uday Singh, the BJP MPs who visited the area on Thursday to share the victims’ plight and take stock of the situation.

In the area, fear and angst was fast giving way to outrage. “Incidentally, things would not have come to such a pass had the administration moved earlier. The culprits earlier belonged to the CPI(M), which had some kind of control over them. But after 2009, they have joined the Trinamool and the party, on account of its communal politics, has given them the licence to riot,” claimed Anadi Pradhan. “They would return on Id,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Dr Mitra and Singh, who had a meeting with the police administration brass, demanded that the culprits be brought to book. “The local MP is being accused by all the residents. They say he was the one who led the attack,” Dr Mitra said. Saying that the issue would be raised nationally, the two BJP MPs demanded speedy rehabilitation for those affected in the attacks.

Earlier, the row reached a flashpoint when members of one community dug up the pathway leading to a Durga temple at Chattal Pally village, barely 100 metres from the Deganga police station. They attacked the other community members, when they were requested to stop the digging.

The land, which originally belonged to Rani Rashmani of Kolkata, is now disputed. Part of it is used as a graveyard and another part by the Durga Puja committee for the past 40 years. A narrow road slices the two pieces of land. “This is the biggest of the 40-odd Pujas that take place in the area. We have even been awarded by the police station for conducting peaceful Puja,” said Arun Sadhukhan.

The rioters looted at least 250 shops, torched 50 houses and desecrated five temples since Monday afternoon as punishment for raising objections to digging the pathway leading to the Durga Puja pandal. “They did not only burn the Kakra Mirza Nagar Kali temple, but also desecrated the Mother goddess,” complained another resident.

While the feud came to a flashpoint at Chattal Pally, it had its genesis in two earlier incidents. The earlier issue was blaring of loudspeakers from a mosque at Deganga Bazar. The issue is sub judice following the Calcutta High Court’s order for a status quo against the blaring loudspeaker. The community members approached Nurul in 2009, who reportedly promised them that he would help them use the loudspeaker if they voted for him. Incidentally, this was one of the reasons the other community members voted against the sitting MP.

“Now he is taking revenge on us for voting against him. In doing so, he is also fulfilling the promise he made to his community members,” complained a local. “They brought people in trucks, created a mayhem by digging the temple path and attacked the villagers. In the melee, they hoisted a loudspeaker on top of the mosque,” he added.

IGP (Northern Range) Sanjoy Mukherjee, however, said, “The attack was a more spontaneous and less planned.” Police had taken action and things were “cooling down fast”, he added. 

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