In William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ a palace guard remarks: “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.” And we knew he was right from how the story unfolds. The same can be said about West Bengal.
As the flames of the communal violence that engulfed the Muslim-majority district of Malda in West Bengal leapt up with a sudden fury, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee simply brushed off the criticisms and claimed that there was no such tensions in her state.
This is far from the truth.
Communal violence has been on the rise unbridled in Bengal, especially after the coming to power of Trinamool Congress in 2011.
Even before the party came to power in the state, one of its MPs, Haji Nurul Islam of Basirhat, was accused of fomenting tensions that led to riots targeting Hindus.
The Deganga riots in the district of Basirhat erupted in 2010 and continued for three days from September 6-9. Homes of Hindus were ransacked, business establishments uprooted and, according to a report, a temple was desecrated.
The situation was so tense that the army had to be called in. No action was taken against Nurul Islam by either his party or the then CPI(M) government.
In the 2014 General Election, Trinamool shifted Islam to contest from Jangipur pitting him against Congress’ Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee. Jangipur being a Congress bastion voted for Mukherjee.
In that election Trinamool Congress leader Idris Ali contested from Basirhat and won. Idris Ali is the same MP who, after the Pathankot attack, outrageously alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has links to terrorists.
Addressing a gathering of supporters in Basirhat, Ali said: “I feel Modi has links with terrorists. Why did the attack happen right after his visit to Pakistan?”
It should be noted here that in 2007 Ali was charged for inciting violence in Kolkata while demanding the revocation of visa of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.
Idris Ali, the Muslim fanatic who caused riots in Kolkata, now an elected member of the Indian parliament. What a sad news!
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) June 6, 2014
It was the first time since 1992 that the army had to be called in to control the situation in the state.
In February 2013, riots erupted in Naliakhali in Canning sub-division of the South 24 Parganas District. Some 200 homes, allegedly of Hindus, were burned down in the ensuing violence following the murder of a Muslim cleric.
Both Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) accused one another even as around 2000 people ended up in relief camps.
In May 2015 a wave of violence swept across Nadia District. Four people died, all Hindus according to this report. Rarely any prominent media house reported the incident.
Even the authorities refused to divulge the names of the dead though they confirmed it was four. The state government quickly hushed it up.
The rampaging Malda mob that vandalized property and set to fire around 40 vehicles in Kaliachak, including one belonging to BSF, on January 3, 2016 is another example of extreme rise in communal violence in the state.
In spite of the nature of Kaliachak violence, the Chief Minister has remained silent.
The situation in Bengal can be best described as dangerous. Many illegal madarassas have mushroomed in the state ever since Trinamool Congress came to power.
In their report on the investigation of the Burdhaman blasts, the NIA blamed the illegal madrassas in the state for harbouring anti-national elements. In its report, the NIA said that the banned Jamaat-ul Mujahideen, a Bangladeshi outfit, had already infiltrated and started operations in India with local support.
According to a senior official of the state minority affairs department, there are over 400 all-Muslim NGOs working in the state, while there are 597 madrassas recognised by the government.
The government has also been accused of going overboard with its vote-bank politics. Anisur Rahman, senior leader of the CPI(M) minority cell, criticized the government:
“They have started bhata (doles) for Muslim clerics, which creates polarisation. In rural areas people fight over these issues.”
Protests against the remarks by Kamlesh Tiwari of the Hindu Mahasabha against Prophet Mohammed was condemned by Muslims across the country but nowhere, not even in Uttar Pradesh where the remark was allegedly made, was there such a wave of violence as seen in Malda’s Kaliachak.
In March 2013, thousands of protestors marched under the umbrella of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation in the heart of Kolkata protesting the death sentencing of a 1971 war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayeedi by the Government of Bangladesh.
Sayeedi was accused of participating in genocide, killing of Indian soldiers, mass murder and rape in collusion with Pakistan during the war.
Yet the media barely reported the incident but we know about it from columns of political commentators. Neither the Left Front nor the Trinamool Congress raised a finger at such a brazen display of solidarity with war criminals.
In his scathing criticism of the lawlessness in Indian states and the Ostrich-like manner in which the ‘liberal-secular’ ignore it, R Jagannathan – former editor-in-chief of Firstpost – wrote:
“Out of sight of the English-language media, various state-level political parties run their fiefs in ways that may not be very different from how Dawood Ibrahim may be running his. Our civil libertarians are wasting their time trolling the centre and metropolitan areas from Delhi and Mumbai. They should shift their bases to India’s lawless states. That’s where the real threats to life, liberty and freedom exist.”
The 2013 demonstration clearly pointed at the fact that Bengal had become a home of Islamist radicals with a Bangladeshi connect who do not support the secular Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party-led government in that country. And that fact alone is enough to raise warning flags.