ASANSOL/RANIGANJ: West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi today met the victims of the riot-hit areas of Asansol and Raniganj and appealed for peace, saying people from all religions should respect each other's festivals.
One person was killed and two police officers suffered serious injuries on Monday when clashes broke out between two groups over a Ram Navami procession in the Raniganj area of West Bengal's Bardhaman district.
The violence spread to areas in Asansol, prompting the police to suspend Internet services and clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in the trouble-torn areas of the district.
The governor, who reached Asansol today morning, held a meeting with senior police and administration officials and took stock of the situation.
Later, he visited some of the affected areas of Raniganj and Asansol and spoke to the local people.
He also visited the shops that were gutted during the violence.
"Peace should be paramount. I have come here with the message of peace and brotherhood. Everybody should live in peace and respect each other. There should not be any recurrence of such incidents. Everybody should respect each other's religious festivals," Tripathi told reporters after visiting the areas.
He, however, expressed his inability to visit all the affected areas.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader and state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee, however, questioned the governor "visiting only selected areas".
"People will question the governor about his visit to selected areas. We all know that BJP leaders are meeting him," he said.
Chatterjee said the Mamata Banerjee government has efficiently tackled the situation.
He accused the BJP of fomenting communal riots in the state.
Tripathi met the district magistrate, the police commissioner of Asansol-Durgapur and the inspector general of police (western range) earlier in the day and inquired about the present situation.
Asked if he was happy with the steps taken by the police and the administration to tackle the situation, Tripathi said, "Whatever I have to say I will say it to the state government.I don't want to discuss it here."
Earlier this week, the state government had advised him against visiting Asansol and Raniganj, citing security reasons.
Meanwhile, West Bengal state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury was stopped when he was on his way to the Asansol-Raniganj area to meet the victims.
Chowdhury, along with other state Congress leaders, staged a sit-in, only to withdraw it later.
"I just wanted to meet the victims but the police didn't allow me. They are trying to hide something," he said.
Chowdhury accused the state government for not doing enough to control the communal flare-up.
A four-member delegation of BJP MPs is scheduled to visit the Asansol-Raniganj area tomorrow and submit a report to BJP president Amit Shah.
Union minister Babul Supriyo and state BJP Mahila Morcha president Locket Chatterjee were also stopped from entering the Asansol-Raniganj area by the police on Thursday.
The Imam of Noorani Masjid, Imdatullah Rashidi, had said that his son was also killed in the violence, but there was no confirmation from the police on the incident.
Rashidi had also appealed for peace in the area.
Supriyo, the Asansol MP, thanked Rashidi for his appeal.
"I salute u Imam saab & I hope one day I wil b able 2 visit u without being judged or being accused of playing #VoteBankPolitics. There is no way anyone of us can ever relate 2 the pain u r going thru but I can surely feel rejuvenated & inspired by the mind power u hv showered. Salam (sic)," Supriyo tweeted.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the law and order situation in the state is unfortunate.
"The governor visited Asansol today. As a result, the common people will gain confidence. BJP leaders have been barred from visiting the area and BJP workers are being subjected to atrocities," Ghosh alleged.
"Prohibitory orders are still in force as the situation here is tense. No fresh incident of violence was reported from the area in the last three days," a senior police officer said, adding that large contingents of the police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) are patrolling the area.