Strict security measures will be in place throughout West Bengal on Wednesday to avert any untoward incident in view of the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan in Ayodhya and the complete lockdown in the state by the government, a senior official of the state government said on Tuesday.
While security will be tight to enforce the lockdown to combat COVID-19, extra precautions will be taken to thwart any attempt to disrupt the law and situation "anywhere by anyone be it any political or non-political body, the official said hinting at the Ram Mandir bhumi pujan.
"No gatherings or congregation will be allowed anywhere. We will not see any colour - be it political or non-political ... Nobody will be allowed to come out or hold any rally or any congregations. We will act strictly as per the law, the official told PTI.
Stating that restrictions will be in force as in other days of complete lockdown, he said none will be allowed on the streets until and unless there is an emergency. Only people belonging to the emergency services will be allowed to move outside, he said.
Extra police force will be posted outside temples and religious places so that people do not come out of their homes violating lockdown restrictions and congregate, he added.
Police, security personnel have been directed for the purpose and directives have been sent to each district and commissionerate to strictly deal with any form of violation of restrictions, he said.
Security will be tight in the city, where an extra layer will be in place with senior Kolkata Police officers in the ranks of assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners posted at vital junctions including in front of temples.
All police stations have been directed to use extra force and ensure that there is no disruption of law and order in their respective areas.
Naka checking, quick response teams, RAF, heavy radio flying squads will be in place. Our senior officers supervising things from the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar, he added.
The BJP has opposed the West Bengal government's imposition of the lockdown on Wednesday and demanded that the date be changed as in the case of Eid on August 1 so that people of the state could take part in the Ram Temple bhoomi pujan with the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the TMC government will have to "pay a heavy price" in the state polls for not budging on its decision to enforce lockdown on August 5, despite requests by his party on account of the Ram temple groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya.
Ghosh also claimed that the Mamata Banerjee-led government's stand on the matter reflects its "disregard for the sentiments of the Hindu community".
Rebuffing the allegation, a senior TMC leader said the saffron party should refrain from indulging in communal politics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state BJP chief, while addressing a protest rally here over the alleged killing of his party leaders in the recent past, said, "We had urged the government to change the date of lockdown from August 5 to any other day. Yesterday, they did make changes to the lockdown schedule, but remained adamant on August 5.
"The people of West Bengal are watching everything. They will not hesitate to change the government in the next elections. This arrogance will cost them dearly," he said.
The August 5 ceremony will mark the beginning of the construction of Ram temple after a decades-long title suit over the site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was settled by Supreme Court last November.
The Medinipur MP said his party will not conduct any programme on the occasion, but workers will take part in prayer meets organised by the VHP, and other organisations.
"Tomorrow, in various parts of the state, people will conduct Yagya and perform other rituals to mark the ''bhoomi pujan'' of Ram Mandir. The BJP is officially not conducting any programme, but our party workers will take part in celebrations," he told reporters later in the day.
Reacting to Ghosh''s assertions, TMC secretary general and state education minister Partha Chatterjee said Bengal believes in communal harmony and brotherhood, and nothing should be done to spoil the social fabric of the state.
"This is not the time to pursue communal politics. The BJP should refrain from indulging in communal politics in the midst of the pandemic. In Bengal, we have always witnessed harmony and brotherhood among all religions and cultures. Nothing should be done to spoil that," he said.
The West Bengal government has for the fourth time changed the dates of complete lockdown this month owing to local festivals.
The total shutdown days, following the latest revision, fall on August 5 (Wednesday), 8 (Saturday), 20 (Thursday), 21 (Friday), 27 (Thursday), 28 (Friday) and 31 (Monday), according to the government notification issued on Monday.