Violence In Bengal Again Over Movement In Coronavirus Containment Zones

The Rapid Action Force personnel are on the streets but widespread arson had the fire brigade rushing from one point to another as thick black smoke spiralled in the air and could be seen from several kilometres away.

Violence In Bengal Again Over Movement In Coronavirus Containment Zones

At least 37 people were arrested over Sunday and Monday.

Kolkata:

After relative calm for 24 hours, violence erupted at Telinipara in West Bengal's Hooghly district, with rival communities hurling bombs at each other in a continuation of Sunday's clash over people from one coronavirus containment zone allegedly entering another virus-hit zone to use public toilets.

The trouble started on Sunday evening, in which several shops were vandalised and set on fire after allegedly being looted. The police had brought the situation under control after tear gas and lathicharge on mobs from rival communities. At least 37 people were arrested over Sunday and Monday.

But on Tuesday afternoon, bombs exploded by the dozen at Telinipara again, forcing people indoors.

The Rapid Action Force personnel are on the streets but widespread arson had the fire brigade rushing from one point to another as thick black smoke spiralled in the air and could be seen from several kilometres away.

According to police sources, both Telinipara and Wardipara had reported Coronavirus cases. When one set of people from Wardipara walked over to Telinipara to use public toilets on Sunday, locals at Telinipara objected. The people from Wardibazar were allegedly taunted and addressed as "Corona".  

Today, however, there was an element of planning in the violence, the police said. Both groups were armed with bombs. One group had more than the other.

At the end of day, Commissioner of Police, Mr Humayun Kabir, confirmed that 47 people were arrested and the situation was under control.

An angry local MP, Locket Chatterjee, who was prevented from entering the area on Monday because Section 144 was in place, rushed to Raj Bhavan this afternoon to complain.  

"The police want to do their job but the go ahead was not being given for necessary orders to crack down. How can rioting take place in the presence of the police," she said.

"Strict action will be taken against those violating the lockdown and creating trouble. Action will be taken against them under the Disaster management act," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said this evening.

"No one will be spared. Law will take its own course. There will be action against leaders also, leaders who are tweeting and saying Hindus did this and Muslims did that," she warned.

In his appeal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankar referred to communal disturbances at Chandipur in Malda district as well, where the weekend saw repeated clashes between rival communities, again over people from coronavirus containment areas allegedly entering non-containment zones.

There, too, RAF has been deployed and the BJP MP from Malda North, Mr Khagen Murmu, was barred entry.

"Intelligence will be toned up so that disruptive activities could be pre-empted," he said.

Telinipara lies between Chandannagar and Chinsurah towns in Hooghly district, around 50 km from Kolkata. It is largely a jute mill town and has a history of communal disturbance.

The police put the demographic in the area at 70 per cent Muslim and 30 per cent Hindu. The coronavirus crisis has frayed nerves and the identification of positive cases in the area has resulted in tension.