West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Saturday visited the strife-torn areas of Raniganj and Asansol in West Bardhaman district and urged people to maintain peace and harmony.
Tripathi held a meeting with police officers and the local administration and took stock of the current situation in the area that was hit by communal tension earlier this week.
“I had plans to visit Asansol and Raniganj two days earlier, but for certain reasons the visit did not materalise. I have come here with the message of peace. Peace should be paramount. I appeal to all the people belonging to all castes and communities to live in harmony,” Tripathi told reporters here.
The Governor said he has been briefed by senior administrative officials about how the unrest took place and the evasive measures taken up to keep the situation under control.
Meanwhile, a Congress delegation led by party’s state president Adhir Chowdhury was stopped by police from entering Asansol.
The Congress activists held a sit-in on the national highway, demanding an answer from the Trinamool Congress and the BJP on why the clashes took place.
“How can the administration impose CrPC 144 on a national highway? We did not enter any locality. What is the Bengal government so scared of that they have to stop the peace-loving people two-three kilometres away from the area of unrest?” Chowdhury asked.
He also claimed that the state administration’s lack of alertness was responsible for the current situation in the area.
A person was allegedly hacked to death while a Deputy Commissioner of Police lost a hand after getting hit by a bomb during the clash between two groups centring on a Ram Navami procession organised by the sangh affiliates in Raniganj on Monday.
Several others including police personnel were also injured and several shops and houses vandalised and set ablaze during the clashes.
The communal tension spilled onto other parts of Asansol forcing the administration to impose prohibitory orders in the area and suspend internet services.
Nineteen people were arrested for fomenting trouble and local MP and BJP leader Babul Supriyo stopped from visiting the area.
A four-member committee formed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah is scheduled to visit the trouble hit areas on Sunday and submit a report.
The Home Ministry has also sought a report from the state government on incidents of arson and violence during the processions.
However, the Trinamool Congress government denied knowledge of any such directive from the Central government and blamed the BJP for the unrest.
The BJP, which is trying to pitchfork itself as the main challenger to the Trinamool in the state, has been using the Ram Navami celebrations since last year to appeal to the majority Hindu population.
Sensing the BJP’s motive, the Trinamool also resorted to celebrate the occasion on its own this year.