The communal violence in Dhulagarh, Howrah district, West Bengal, has taken on distinctly political hues.
At a time when a delegation from the Bharatiya Janata Party, including some members of the senior central leadership, was not allowed to enter the trouble spot, CPI(M) leaders including party general secretary Sitaram Yechury visited the village.
This delegation condemned the incident, and claimed that communal tensions were rising in Bengal.
Yechury said of the incident, which took place a week ago: "I could not think of such a situation in West Bengal, where we will have to appeal to people to maintain communal harmony."
He also blamed the local administration for its failure to maintain communal harmony in the area, and blamed the Trinamool Congress government for creating a communal divide.
Yechury urged people to fight communal tension together, and restore harmony.
Sources within the state BJP claimed that this showed that the ruling Trinamool Congress considered the BJP its principal Opposition, not the CPI(M).
Dilip Ghosh, state president of BJP, said: "Local people have showed their solidarity with us, and so, Section 144 was imposed on us, and we were not allowed to enter inside the area. The ruling party is afraid of our strength, and so, it did not allow us to enter the area."
Meanwhile, Bengal CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim said that at a time when communal violence was taking place at Dhulagarh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee failed to visit the area and remained at Nabanna, the state administration headquarters."
Salim questioned: "Why is the Chief Minister silent on the issue of communal violence? Instead of restoring peace in Dhulagarh, she went to New Delhi to attend the Opposition meeting."
According to Salim, this was only because her own party leaders were involved in this incident.
Taking a dig at the BJP-led Central government too, Salim said: "Instead of trying to maintain peace, both the BJP and the TMC joined hands to stoke communal tensions."
District CPI(M) leaders have demanded a judicial enquiry into the Dhulagarh incident, and have also submitted a memorandum in this regard to the district magistrate and the superintendent of police.
Theories in the absence of media coverage
The tension in Dhulagarh began after a Milad-un-Nabi procession went through Majerpara, a predominantly Hindu area. This led to tensions between the two communities.
Some sources claim that the violence was pre-planned, as a result of an intra-TMC feud between Sankrail MLA Sital Sardar and Panchla MLA Gulshan Mullick.
It took a couple of days for the tension to dissipate, and it's interesting to note that TMC vice-president Mukul Roy visited the area two days after the incident, reportedly to play peacemaker between the MLAs and their supporters.
Till date, 65 arrests have been made in connection with the Dhulagarh violence.
Sources also say that the SP of Howrah was transferred three days after the incident, as he had arrested a few TMC leaders belonging to the Muslim community. However, it is claimed that the media failed to report this out of fear.
In a related development, the state government has filed an FIR against three mediapersons for covering the Dhulagarh incident. They have been booked under non-bailable sections.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma