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North Bengal tense as it marks Ayodhya event

Several BJP activists held for rallying during lockdown

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Some districts of north Bengal today witnessed political clashes among activists of the Trinamul Congress, BJP and other religious organisations, including the Hindu Sanhati Mancha and Viswa Hindu Parishad as the saffron brigade hit the streets to celebrate the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Police intervened at some places such as Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Siliguri to stop the rally and assembly of people, especially at a time when the total lockdown in the state as part of the government’s fight against Covid-19 was in place today.

In Balurghat in South Dinajpur, police remained on their toes to enforce the lockdown, while they were seen running on the roads with batons on their hands, even as BJP leaders and supporters celebrated the stone-laying ceremony.

“However, though police tried to stop any kind of gathering, BJP supporters and leaders celebrated the occasion openly in Balurghat,” sources said.

BJP’s Member of Parliament from Balurghat, Sukanta Majumdar, threatened the police for not allowing BJP leaders to organise a worship programme at the Ram Temple in Balurghat.

The police force in Balurghat was led by DSP (Headquarters), Dhiman Mitra, in today’s lockdown duty. MP, Mr Majumdar, offered prayers at the Ram Temple at Raghunathpur in Balurghat, where the police arrived later. “However, as the police reached the temple, the BJP leaders had already left the place,” sources said.

“Later women leaders of the BJP tried to arrange for a worship programme in the temple, only to be stopped by the police,” they added.

Just after the live telecast from Ayodhya where Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the rituals, BJP leaders, including Mr Majumdar, celebrated the ceremony in front of the BJP party office in Balurghat with fire crackers, while they also distributed sweets among the people gathered there.

“Police of the Mamata Banerjee government is working against the interests of the Hindu community. We don’t want to violate the laws, but police have tried to stop our supporters and activists from organizing any worship. This is our constitutional right. In spite of this, BJP supporters and people of Balurghat have celebrated the stone-laying ceremony,” Mr Majumdar later said.

Superintendent of Police Deborshi Dutta, on the other hand, said police detained 14 persons from different parts of the district for violating the laws and the lockdown orders.

In Alipurduar, district secretary of the BJP Arjun Debnath, along with two other BJP leaders, were arrested from the Khapsadanga Market under the Shamuktala police station today. The BJP leaders had organised a ‘Bhumi Pujan’ at Khapsadanga Market to mark the foundation stone-laying ceremony at Ayodhya. BJP district president Ganga Prasad Sharma criticised the move of the police.

On the other hand, several people celebrated the occasion by offering prayers to Lord Rama. Some people also organised pujas in more than 10 temples in Siliguri this evening, it is learnt.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, a senior RSS activist in Siliguri circulated an appeal this morning that said: “Offer puja to Sri Ramachandra and Mahabir. To develop the country, need to continue Mahabir puja, Shakti puja and Shree Ramchandra Puja for the welfare of the country, otherwise there is no way.”

On the other hand, secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission, Jalpaiguri, Swami Shivapremananda, in his message on social media, quoted Vivekananda and said: “Sita will always be treated as our national deity.”

A Siliguri resident, Manoj Sharma, on the other hand, chanted “Jai Sri Ram,” abd said: ” I want to thank CM Mamata Banerjee for announcing the lockdown, due to which we were able to enjoy watching the foundation stone-laying ceremony on television with all our family members at home.”

“Lockdown in the state has killed two birds with one stone today. Secularism was played and the family was given the opportunity to watch Bhumi Puja and Ram Bhajan on all channels for three hours in peace. The symbol of the secular state is the Prime Minister… no one missed the unprecedented opportunity to see this scene. Jai Sri Ram,” said the former Registrar of the North Bengal University, Tapas Chatterjee.

Later in the evening, several BJP leaders and activists were detained in Siliguri as they took out a rally during the lockdown to mark the Ayodhya event.