Police stop VHP from distributing 'Hanuman Chalisa' at book fair

Kolkata, Feb 9 (PTI) Policemen prevented VHP workers from distributing the 'Hanuman Chalisa' among visitors of the 44th International Kolkata Book Fair for some time leading to an altercation between the two sides on Sunday, the last day of the event.

Police said they objected to the distribution of the religious book as it could incite passion among the visitors leading to law and order problem.

However, the police relented later and the Vishva Hindu Parishad activists resumed giving out the book.

'There was tension initially. But when we wanted to know why the Hanuman Chalisa cannot be distributed if other organisations can give out the Quran and the Bible, the police relented and we continued with the distribution,' VHP member Swarup Chatterjee told PTI.

A police officer said the VHP men also had a brief altercation with some ultra-left student activists before the Parishad's stall.

A group of students also took out a rally on the fair ground holding placards against the CAA and shouting slogans against the BJP and Saturday's detention of five protesters.

The police stopped the procession.

Anti-CAA protesters and BJP and VHP activists were involved in a scuffle when senior party leader Rahul Sinha entered a stall on Saturday. Five anti-CAA protesters were then detained.

Publishers and Booksellers Guild, organisers of the book fair, said the two incidents did not disrupt the event.

President of the Guild, Tridib Chatterjee, later told reporters that voicing dissent against others' views on the open ground of the book fair when lakhs of people are around is unfortunate.

'Kolkata Book Fair is a place where a hundred flowers bloom and different organisations can profess their ideologies without promoting hatred and bigotry,' Chatterjee said.

To another question, he said books worth Rs 14 crore were sold from over 600 stalls in the book fair till Saturday.