BJP Lawmakers Detained For Trying To Visit Riot-Hit Basirhat In Bengal

BJP Lawmakers Detained For Trying To Visit Riot-Hit Basirhat In Bengal

KOLKATA:  For a second day in a row, BJP leaders have been detained by the police in Kolkata to prevent them from visiting riot-hit Basirhat in Bengal's North-24 Parganas district. A team of three BJP lawmakers - Meenakshi Lekhi, Om Mathur and Satyapal Singh - were detained and taken to a police station when they arrived in Kolkata to visit Basirhat, about 100 kilometres from the state capital.

"How can you stop us, we are MPs... We know the law," Ms Lekhi said, questioning the imposition of Section 144 of CrPC (prohibiting an assembly of more than four people) in the village. Ms Lekhi along with other leaders was taken to Kolkata airport police station, reported news agency ANI.

On Friday, BJP's Roopa Ganguly and other leaders were stopped near the Kolkata airport when they attempted to visit Basirhat, where violence erupted again yesterday after a police lathicharge. Teams from the Congress and the Left were asked to turn back too by the police. The opposition parties said they were going to the town to appeal for calm; Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has requested them to keep away, promising that no leader from her Trinamool Congress will go there either.

BJP is also likely to submit a memorandum to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi today demanding imposition of President's Rule in Bengal. "We demand that the Centre immediately intervene and impose President's rule in the state. The Centre should send a team of central observers to assess the worsening law and order situation in the state," President of BJP's Bengal unit Dilip Ghosh told reporters on Friday.

Basirhat, torn apart by communal violence since earlier this week, was relatively calm since Thursday morning, but erupted again on Friday after the police used batons on angry crowds who alleged that police were detaining only Hindu men since the riots began.

Locals also alleged that Trinamool Congress legislator Dibyendu Biswas was present during the detentions and pointed out Hindu homes to the police to be searched. On the main Basirhat road, groups of people stopped and searched cars for the MLA, who had to flee the town and has now been summoned by his party to explain his alleged actions.

Angry groups set up road blocks and burned truck tyres. Women came out on the streets with brooms and sticks in their hands. Mobs stoned police vehicles.

Ms Banerjee has blamed the BJP, the RSS and other fringe groups for the violence and accused senior leaders of provocative statements. She has also had heated exchanges with Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, who she accused of insulting and humiliating her when he called for an update on the tension. The Governor has said Ms Banerjee's allegations are an attempt to "emotionally blackmail the people of Bengal."


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