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ENS| Kolkata |Apr 3, 2017:: Bengal has had a history of celebrating every festival with equal fervour. A Bengali proverb sums up the mood: Bangalir baro mashe tero parbon (Bengalis have 13 festivals in 12 months). However, with West Bengal witnessing communal riots during every festival in the past six months, the religious festivities have turned into new communal flashpoints in the State. One such festival that the State government is worried about is Ram Navami.
With the emerging force BJP-RSS vowing to celebrate Ram Navami in a big way in all the districts of the State on April 5, the State administration is on its toes to curb any possible communal violence during the festivities that sees a display of aggressive Hindutva with the dance of swords, trishuls resonating with frantic chants of politco-religious slogan, ‘Jai Shree Ram’.
“Who are the police to issue permission? In Ram Rajya, people worshipped Ram for centuries. People of Bengal will worship lord Ram and with weapons on April 5. Show of strength in West Bengal will protect the Hindus in Bangladesh,” BJP state President Dilip Ghosh said.
On the other hand, police are worried with this show of strength. “Ram Navami has never been celebrated on a big scale in Bengal, other than in urban pockets with substantial Hindi speaking populace. There is history of Ram Navami sparking communal riots in various north Indian states. Most flashes have taken place when the Ram Navami procession passed through Muslim areas during which youths of both communities provoked and threatened each other. West Bengal has almost 30% Muslim population and several Ram Navami processions are likely to traverse Muslim-dominated localities. We are preparing to deploy West Bengal security personnel, including special forces STRACO and Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) in areas where Ram Navami will be celebrated in a big way,” a top police official of Police Headquarters Lalbazar told New Indian Express on conditions of anonymity.
“More deployment will be in areas that have witnessed communal violence in the past six months such as Kharagpur, Chandannagar, Hazinagar, Naihati, Chanchol and Dhulagarh,” he added. More than 150 rallies would be held throughout the State, the bigger ones being held at Islampur, Raniganj, Siuri, Krishnanagar and Kharagpur among others.
“RSS masterminding Communal riots on D day of Ramnabami in diff parts of d state.D Vigilant Left has 2 protect communal harmony at any cost,” Left Front’s leader in Assembly, Surjya Kanta Mishra tweeted. Another top Left Front leader, Biman Bose also alleged at a rally on Monday that RSS and BJP were trying to instigate riots during Ram Navami.
However, Hindutva groups have asserted their rights to hold Ram Navami procession in a big way. “Hindus are under attack in West Bengal which is why there is a need to mark Ram Navami. People from all sections of society are participating in the programme,” said Bidyut Mukherjee, organisational secretary of RSS in West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Ground cadres seem prepared for the mega event. “Nobody questions when Muslims hold Muharram procession with open swords. Only when Hindus assert themselves with swords and trishuls, the State government in West Bengal fears riots,” Ram Prasad Yadav, a Bajrang Dal activist from Kharagpur said. “Preparations are nearing completion. Our boys will put up a grand show,” he added.