KOLKATA: At least three people were killed and an unspecified number of people, including cops, were injured as violence erupted during Ram Navami processions in West Bengal. One person died in Purulia on Sunday while two others – one in Raniganj and another in Kakinara - died on Monday as the administration struggled to quell violence.
Raniganj in West Burdwan, Kakinara in North 24-Parganas (where, besides the death, a bust of India’s first Union education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, was pulled down) and Kandi in Murshidabad were Monday’s three flashpoints, which prompted curfew in Raniganj, sealing off of the affected areas in Kakinara, police crackdown at several other places and suo motu FIRs against BJP leaders in West Midnapore and Birbhum.
“The clashes were incited in a systematic manner. Processions deviated from their original routes at these places and processionists tried to forcibly enter a neighbourhood populated by one community at one of these places. We are monitoring the situation. Steps are being taken to restore peace,” a senior police officer said at Nabanna.
In Kakinara, bordering North 24-Parganas’ Bhatpara Municipality, miscreants first brought down a bust of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad near the market named after him, triggering violence, on Sunday afternoon. A free-for-all ensued, in which there were reports of gunfire as well. Two persons were injured. Both were taken to hospital where one was declared dead early on Monday.
The Raniganj violence started after Rajbandh locals asked rallyists to lower the volume of music being belted out by DJs, who accompanied the rally. The rallyists refused, prompting an altercation that flared into large-scale violence. Several shops were looted, some were set on fire and the clashes continued for three hours. Five policemen, besides several other people, were injured.