West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused the BJP of organising violence during Ram Navami processions and asserted that she would not let any rioter go scot-free and warned that strict action would be taken against “dangabaaz” (rioters).
Addressing a rally in Purba Medinipur district, Banerjee also took a dig at Union Home Minister Amit Shah without naming him and pointed out that BJP had said if it comes to power in Bihar, it would hang rioters “upside down” and wondered why such action was not being taken against “their ‘goondas’”.
Clashes were reported in Hooghly and Howrah districts during Ram Navami processions over the last few days.
“The BJP is behind the violence in Hooghly and Howrah. They had brought in hired ‘goondas’ from other states to unleash violence in Bengal, which is not in our culture. They are defaming the Hindu religion by pitting one community against another. But rioters have no religion, they are just political goons. I appeal to everyone to maintain calm,” she said.
Taking a dig at Union Home Minister Amit Shah, without naming him, she said, “The BJP said if the party comes to power in Bihar, it would hang rioters upside down. Then why are they not doing that to their `goondas’ who are fomenting trouble in Bengal? Charity begins at home.”.
Shah had made the remark during a recent public rally in Nawada district of Bihar, which has also witnessed communal clashes during Ram Navami.
Taking potshots at the CPI(M), she alleged that ‘Baam’ (Left) and ‘Ram’ (BJP) have joined hands against the TMC.
“I am on the phone constantly because we don’t know when and where BJP will start violence,” she said, adding that people in the “processions organised by BJP” have been found carrying weapons.
Bengal Police have arrested a man from Bihar’s Munger for allegedly carrying a gun during a Ram Navami procession in Howrah district last week, a senior officer said on Tuesday.
“He has been arrested from Bihar’s Munger. During interrogation, the youth admitted that he carried a revolver with him during the Ram Navami procession. He was seen in the video. We have handed over him to the state CID,” the officer told PTI.
Banerjee said as people in Bengal didn’t take part in violence, the BJP has started bringing in people from outside the State to incite violence.
“Bengal government is making all efforts to restore the livelihood of those affected by the violence. We had recently passed a law where losses suffered during organised protests would be compensated by attaching and auctioning off the alleged vandals’ properties,” she said.
“It is a criminal act. Under the garb of the Ram Navami procession, they are asking people to carry guns and swords to incite violence,” she said.
The chief minister said she had never opposed Ram Navami processions, but BJP leaders were bringing in bulldozers, tractors, petrol bombs, guns and swords to these rallies.
“These rioters have no religion; their only identity is that they are political goons hired by the BJP. They are destroying the name of Lord Ram. I am also a Hindu, a follower of Swami Vivekananda’s Hinduism … I don’t believe in BJP’s Hindutva,” she said.