Bengal announces judicial probe into Basirhat violence, police stop BJP MPs

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, July 8 (IANS) The West Bengal government on Saturday ordered a judicial probe into the communal violence in North 24 Parganas's Basirhat, and continued a major shake-up of the police administration in the area by transferring two senior officers.

Meanwhile, a team of three BJP MPs en route to the troubled area, was stopped and detained by police. Another BJP delegation met Governor K.N. Tripathi to demand imposition of President's Rule in the state.

Announcing the judicial probe, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said a sitting or a former Calcutta High Court Judge would be entrusted with the responsibility.

Violence erupted between two communities at Baduria on July 3 night over a Facebook post by a youth.

While he was soon arrested, violence broke out with mobs attacking shops and houses, torching vehicles, including those of police, and putting up road blockades. Several police personnel sustained injuries as the violence to spread to various pockets under the sub-division.

"We will conduct a judicial probe into the Baduria-Basirhat incident to take impartial action as per law. We want to know which were the forces which indulged in violence. We will also probe the media's involvement in spreading rumours," Banerjee told reporters at state Secretariat Nabanna.

She said the state would provide all administrative inputs to the judicial commission.

The Chief Minister promised strong action against those responsible for the violence and attacked the Central government for not carrying out its responsibility of protecting the international border.

"How was the Bangladesh border opened? Who takes care of the security of the border? Some of the infiltrators came from the other side of the border and left after indulging in communal violence," she alleged.

Banerjee lauded the residents of Baduria-Basirhat for "not getting trapped" though there was a "conspiracy to draw them into the conspiracy by offering them arms".

Criticising rumour-mongering, she said: "I am not against Facebook, but against fakebook."

Bharatiya Janata Party MPs Meenakshi Lekhi, Om Mathur, and Satyapal Singh, who were tasked by party chief Amit Shah to report on the situation, flew into the city early on Saturday and straightway headed for Basirhat, but were stopped at Michaelnagar on the outskirts of the sub-divisional town.

A heated argument broke out between police and the them.

When police said there could be a problem if they proceeded further, Mathur asked: "Kis baat ki samasya ho sakti hai? (What kind of problem can occur?) Hum saansad hain pata hai aapko? (We are MPs, do you know that?) Privilege motion aa jaayega to aap mar jaaoge (if a privilege motion is slapped then you will be doomed)."

"So are you accepting there is problem ahead in Basirhat?" posed Lekhi amid the altercation.

Lashing out at the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government, she said: "There was no prohibitory order imposed in the area; no papers were shown to us as to why we were detained when we hadn't committed any offence."

"It is very apparent that the administration is hiding the truth and reality -- that the ground situation is grim and the people are actually feeling very insecure. To hide those facts, they have arranged a preventive kind of detention.," Lekhi said after returning to the city.

Later in the day, a BJP delegation led by state party chief Dilip Ghosh met Tripathi and demanded imposition of President's Rule "due to complete law and order breakdown".

The party also held a protest march in the city to demand the arrest of those involved in the violence.

A state Home Department notification said North 24 Parganas' Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Mukherjee and inspector General of Police (South Bengal) Ajay Ranade have been removed.

C Sudhakar, now deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, would be the new SP, while Sanjay Singh - currently Director of the Directorate of Economic Offence - would replace Ranade.

On Friday, the state government had transferred Inspector in-charge of Basirhat police station Nasim Akhtar.

Accusing the BJP of "indulging in violence", the Chief Minister claimed its activists had set afire Trinamool Congress offices in Basirhat.

Banerjee announced that her government has blacklisted two organisations - Hindu Sanhati and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen - and their leaders would not be allowed to enter the troubled areas.

She also blamed a section of the national media for "spreading rumour and telecasting distorted, fabricated videos".