Fact- Finding Report from Bashirhat

A team led by Comrades Subroto Sengupta, Secretary, Babuni Majumdar and Nabendu Dasgupta visited the riot prone areas of Bashirhat on 11th July for fact finding. A brief summary of the report prepared by them is shared below.

According to the team, as they travelled in the train, there were hardly any signs of the horrific incidents and communal tensions that had few days ago gripped the entire area of the particular sub-division in the crowded train compartment. Daily passengers of both communities were absolutely normal sitting beside together. After getting down at Bashirhat, the team contacted Com. Debabrata Biswas, district committee member and Ali Fazal Ali. North 24 Parganas comprises of 5 sub-division and Bashirhat is one of them. State govt is contemplating to form a separate district of Bashirhat. There are 10 Blocks in Bashirhat sub-division. According to the census report, 2011, the population of Muslim population is 47.25 percentage. The Muslim population of Bashirhat block 1 & 2 and Baduria block is 68.77 & 67.79% respectively. The rumour mill was very active spreading a canard of lies, false stories in the entire Bashirhat subdivision in the recent past. In a planned and concerted move, BJP was found actively instigating the young muslim youths. This is at a time when the incidents of torture and lynching of the minorites have already had a negative influence upon the local muslim population. It is in this backdrop that a provocative Facebook post appeared and arrest of the boy took place. It was in order to conceal the role of the local political leaders, that the theory of ‘outsider’ was propagated.

On 2nd July, some local people of Baduria belonging to muslim community blocked roads, gheraoed local police station, burnt tyres, ransacked some shops and tried to set fire to the house of the boy who had allegedly posted on facebook. However, the positive aspect was that other people also belonging to the muslim community of that locality resisted those members of the community who had turned aggressive. Gradually, situation limped back to normalcy. Local people also calmed down after initial reaction. It may be noted that the Police- administration was inactive for more than 12-15 hours.

No incident occurred on 3rd July, but gradually tension started spreading towards Bashirhat. Rumors spread like wild fire but administration failed to stem the rot. Symptoms of intolerance first appeared during the fair of Rath (chariot) festival at Trimohini. But sensible people of both communities took initiative to arrest further escalation of the situation. In this case also police remained inactive.

On 4th July, some miscreants broke the lock of a Masjid near the Bashirhat court. Two Mandirs were also damaged near Dandirhat Hatkhola. A local resident Noor Islam told the team that people of both communities unitedly took steps to repair the Mandirs. Local people belonging to the Muslim community tried to stop the Muslim youths but ultimately failed to resist the infuriated mob. At this point of time, some thousands of villagers in the Moila Khola adjacent to the Bashirhat station (which is Hindu dominated) and Matania-Anantapur  (Muslim dominated) station stood face to face for a final showdown. But sensible people from both communities promptly took initiative to diffuse the tension. This exemplary initiative prevented a riot in Bengal on a large scale. Salute to the valiant people of the two communities who risked their lives to stop the violence that may have happened. Again, at this moment, the news of Kartick Ghosh’s demise, a tea shop vendor, fanned tension. However, his sons resolutely stood their ground and strongly maintained that there was no link of their father’s death with the communal tension. This is another exemplary incident.

From 5th July, situation gradually improved. Police clamped 144 at Bashirhat, BSF started their march. On the pretext of containing widespread rumors, administration imposed a ban on internet and social media. From 6th July onwards normal life resumed. On that day at 12 noon, TMC MLA Dibyendu Biswas came to the spot with a huge police force. This incident fueled the situation and peoples anger against the police excesses went out of bounds. Thousands of people, women –youth-men started demonstrating before the police and forcibly released the arrested persons from the police station. The agitated people then attacked the TMC party office and police failed to control the situation. Given the internal fractional feud of TMC, the anti-social elements belonging to both communities once again started stoking the communal fire and the advocates of Hindutva forces were found trying to fish in the troubled waters. Bimalesh Bhattcharya told the team that the situation is fast heading towards polarisation and both RSS and TMC are creating trouble. Both these forces are hobnobbing with fundamentalist forces on either side. However, the most encouraging aspect has been that the common people have taken up the challenge to strengthen and maintain communal harmony in the entire area.

Police stops left parties delegates on the way to Basirhat

On 7th July, delegates of the left parties were not allowed to enter Basirhat by the administration of TMC government citing lame excuses. The team was to visit Basirhat for confidence building among the people against the communal tension. The delegation included comrades Md. Selim and Sujan Chakrovarty from CPI(M), comrades Subrata Sengupta and Nabendu Dasgupta from CPI(ML), Com. Swapan Benarjee, CPI, Com. Sanjeeb Chatyapadhyay Forward Block and Com. Pankaj Das, RSP. The team was forced to return to Barasat where a protest meeting was held to condemn the role of the police. The meeting also called peace and harmony among the different communities in the area.