Some shocking developments have been reported from West Bengal over the week. Images that went viral on May 15 show a group of Hindus had assembled near the statue of Hindutva national icon Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, in Kaliachak in West Bengal’s Malda, protesting with banners written in Bengali. They accused the local police station’s Inspector-in-Charge of forcing the Hindus to convert to Islam.
Through the banner written in Bengali, the protesting women asserted that they didn’t want to change their religion. Still, the IC was using different pressure techniques on them to ensure they embraced Islam. One banner also read, “If we don’t listen to him, he will continue to intimidate, arrest and harass us.”
Though the visuals were being shared widely on social media, the incident came to the limelight after a local lady’s undated video went viral on the internet. Through her video, she shared that a group of women had put up posters near the Englishbazar post office area and highlighted the challenges they were facing to retain their Hindu religion. The protestors have stated that they don’t want to change their religion and will resist the officials pressurizing them to become Muslim.
The lady further informed that the women claimed that the police had held their husbands. Despite staging their demonstration in the middle of a busy street, it was upsetting to see that these women didn’t get the attention they deserved. No other Hindu from the area came forward to extend their support to these protesting women.
The video maker expressed her fear that if things continued to be like this, the state of West Bengal might soon turn into another Bangladesh. While she appealed to everyone to support the demonstration, she also accused the ruling party of allowing unchecked illegal immigration to Bharat from Bangladesh.
Chief of BJP West Bengal, Sukanta Majumdar, lamented that a law enforcement officer intimidated poor Hindu families to convert to Islam. He highlighted that it is the state’s responsibility to protect the Freedom of Right to Religion of its citizens and demanded that the government ensure the safety of all Hindus in West Bengal. He also warned that the complaint of the Hindu women must be taken seriously by the administration, or the BJP would hit the streets.
Former Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, who participates actively in Bengal politics, also took cognizance. He tweeted, “The community (Bengali Hindus in this case) that forgets the history of its persecution and idealizes songs of universal love is destined to have a fate like this.”
In response to Roy’s tweet, a Twitter user posted a cutting of a newspaper reporting on the forceful conversion of 3 Hindus to Islam. The report was from December 2021.
When the incident started to gain traction on social media, Malda District Police took to Twitter to refute all the allegations against them. They also claimed that the Hindu men had converted out of their free will.
The protesting Hindu women had already emphasized that the police officer threatened them to convert to Islam. Hence, despite the comments made by the Malda police, we are left to wonder if the Hindu men were forced to give a statement accepting that they had willfully become Muslim.