Calcutta HC orders NIA probe into violence in Shibpur during Ram Navami

The court directed the state police to transfer all records and CCTV footage relating to the matter to the central government within two weeks.
Representational Image: Section 144 imposed in disturbed areas of Hooghly, April 4, 2024. (Photo| EPS)
Representational Image: Section 144 imposed in disturbed areas of Hooghly, April 4, 2024. (Photo| EPS)

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the violence which erupted during Ram Navami celebrations in Howrah, Hooghly and South Dinajpur districts last month.

A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court T.S. Sivagnanam also directed the state government to hand over CCTV footage and other documents related to the violence to the Centre within two weeks. The court also instructed the Centre to hand over those records to the NIA.

The court passed the order responding to a PIL filed by BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari seeking an NIA probe into the violence.

Clashes during Ram Navami celebrations took place at Shibpur in Howrah, Hooghly’s Rishra and Dalkhola in South Dinajpur districts.

Several vehicles were set ablaze, stones were pelted and shops were vandalised in the violence in which many people and policemen were injured.

Welcoming the High Court order, BJP’s state president Sukanta Majumdar tweeted, “Welcome the Calcutta HC decision to transfer the violence incidents happened on Ram Navami in WB to NIA. Three riots were pre-planned and instigated with the support of TMC govt. It was triggered by the inflammatory speech of the CM@MamataOfficial.”

After the violence, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had accused the BJP of trying to create communal tension during Ram Navami processions. She had alleged that the BJP had hired goons from other states to orchestrate communal riots in Bengal.

While hearing the PIL, the Calcutta High Court on April 10 said the violence that broke out during Ram Navami processions was ‘pre-planned’ and there was a failure of intelligence on the part of the state.

"Internet suspension usually takes place when there has been an external danger or infiltration etc. But for a religious procession, we don’t understand why. Sudden violence is when people are walking and there is an altercation etc. But your (state’s) prima facie show these (violence) were pre-planned. There are allegations of stones being hurled from rooftops. Obviously, it is not possible for anyone to take stones up to the rooftop within 10 to 15 minutes,’’ the division bench had observed.

Hours after the violence Union Home Minister Amit Shah sought a report from the West Bengal government.

Bengal governor C. V. Ananda Bose had cut short his Darjeeling trip and went to the trouble-torn area in Rishra. “There will be solid action by all law enforcement agencies. We will never allow miscreants to take law in hand. Police will come down heavily on them. Bengal has been suffering for a long time and we will put an end to it,’’ Bose had said.

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