One person died and at least three others were critically injured in clashes between a Muslim mob and police in Illambazar area of West Bengal’s Birbhum district, last Tuesday. The tension stemmed from an alleged objectionable Facebook post against the prophet of Islam. In incidents that followed the post, a police station was ransacked, vehicles damaged, Hindu homes & shops burnt and NH-60 blocked by ‘protesters’.
Incidentally, there have been several instances over last 2 years of Muslim mobs attacking WB police in Birbhum. On Jan 15 this year, a mob of Muslims had torched two police jeeps, assaulted cops and vandalised and laid siege to a police station in Birbhum’s Mayureswar, prompting officers to flee.
According to SP Mukesh Kumar, Mukherjee — who is a third-year student of computer technology at an engineering college at Durgapur and a resident of Illambazar — was “arrested on Monday night and was taken to Illambazar police station” where he was charged under “ sections of the IT Act and Indian Penal Code”. He added that a Bolpur court later remanded him to 14 days’ judicial custody. But by the time of his arrest, his post had been shared extensively, leading to ‘protests’ in the area.
Police attacked, Bystanders beaten, Hindu Houses and Shops torched
After venting their ire on the police station, the irate mob proceeded to attack innocent bystanders, government vehicles and torched a number of shops and cars. Hindu houses at Ghurisha were also torched and the power house at Deborajpur was vandalised.
Next, the ‘protesters’ attempted to block the arterial NH-60 on Tuesday evening. In desperation, the police fired shots in the air to disperse the unruly mob. One person was allegedly hit in the head, and died on the spot.
A Muslim mob also surrounded Sujan Mukherjee’s house and vandalized parts of the property. “We didn’t even know what was happening or why the violence was taking place. But a mob had gathered and they started throwing stones at the house, and brought down the gates,” said Anirban Mukherjee, Sujan’s uncle and neighbour.
Local Muslim leaders deny, play victim – Indian Express laps it up
Local Muslims are denying that any such thing happened – their claim is that ‘outsiders’ attacked the police station to ‘polarise upcoming elections’. One can expect this convenient conspiracy theory to shortly evolve into saying that Hindu mobs attacked the police to give peaceful Muslims of Illambazar a bad name. Another outlandish allegation being hurled is that police stormed into the Bhagabatipur Bazaar mosque and beat up people praying there. A weak-kneed WB police (under a TMC dispensation which tacitly approves of Islamist violence as a vote catching measure) unable to protect its own police stations in from attacks, actually mustering the courage to enter a mosque would evoke some measure of skepticism in ordinary people. Apparently not for Indian Express, which has devoted a significant part of their report on this incident to the alleged ‘police crackdown’.
Indian Express Act 2 – Demonize Hindu Leaders For Speaking Up
And the same Indian Express, while allowing extremist Muslims to play victim, wasted no time in demonizing the local BJP leadership who for once spoke up in no uncertain terms to condemn the act of wanton violence against police, innocent bystanders, and Hindu homes & shops – all this over a Facebook post. A pamphlet issued by local BJP made an impassioned call for Hindu unity, saying that while the BJP is not opposed to difference of opinions, they are demanding that Hindus have the right to live in peace, without losing self respect, without suffering humiliation and assault, without losing safety. But even this is ‘inflammatory’ as per Indian Express – so much for journalism of courage!
Meanwhile, the police have claimed that the situation is now under control. “Huge force has been deployed in the area. We are keeping a vigil,” said SP Kumar. While one battalion of the CRPF was brought to the district, police added that another battalion was on standby. Prohibitory orders have also been imposed in the area.