KOLKATA: Modern firearms from illegal weapons manufacturing hub Munger in Bihar were amassed in Raniganj and Asansol by the coal mafia even before Ram Navami celebrations and were supplied to both communities during the recent communal flare-up, according to a West Bengal government report to the Ministry of Home Affairs. In the report, the administration claimed that coal mafia and local arms peddlers with links to Bihar and Jharkhand cashed in on the situation and even brought in mercenaries from neighbouring states to foment trouble in West Bengal.
The report adds that the coal mafia involved in the clashes operates across the coal belt from Raniganj extending across the border up to Dhanbad in Jharkhand and have been funding political factions leading to their substantial political clout in both the states.
The report mentions rampant use of bombs and firearms besides traditional weapons such as swords in the communal clashes that have claimed four lives. Of late, weapon manufacturing experts from Munger have been nabbed and illegal weapon manufacturing units run by them unearthed in several parts of the state. Opposition parties CPM and Congress claimed the clashes were caused as Trinamool Congress competed with Sangh-affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad to bring out the Ram Navami processions.
The administration had earlier blamed the poppy mafia operating in Indo-Bangladesh border regions of Malda district during the January 3, 2016 Kaliachak riots when Muslim mobs demanding hanging of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha president Kamlesh Tiwari over his derogatory comment on Prophet Mohammad torched Kaliachak police station, block development office and other public properties. The administration reported the action as a rebuttal by the poppy mafia against police destroying over 1,500 acre of illegal poppy a week before the violence.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered her administration to tighten vigil on the Indo-Bangladesh international border and the state borders with Bihar and Jharkhand in view of the Hanuman Jayanti celebrations on Saturday. She stressed on the need to revamp Intelligence gathering to identify the trouble-makers. She also asked the police to give permission for processions only after scrutiny. Meanwhile, Asansol returned to normalcy on Friday with shops opening in most parts of the city and vehicles plying the streets.
There was no fresh incident of violence but the prohibitory orders were in force in Asansol as tension prevailed in the northern parts of the town, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) P Roychowdhury said, adding that the police staged a route march in the town to instill a sense of security among the people. Meanwhile, normalcy has already returned to Raniganj, Purulia and Kankinara which witnessed clashes since March 25. Internet ban enforced in Asansol and Raniganj to prevent rumourmongering is likely to be revoked on April 4 but if situation improves, it may be lifted on April 1, sources revealed.
BJP team to visit Asansol
The BJP has constituted a panel headed by party vicepresident Om Mathur for ground assessment of the Asansol communal violence in West Bengal. The BJP chief, while condemning the communal incidents in Asansol, termed them unfortunate. “Besides Mathur, BJP leaders Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Rupa Ganguly and BD Ram will visit the violence-hit city and submit a report to the party president,” the BJP said in a media statement. The BJP has claimed that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee failed to crack the whip against miscreants for fomenting trouble during the Ram Navami processions in parts of the eastern state, while holding parleys with the Opposition leaders in New Delhi.