TWO SEPARATE teams comprising BJP MPs and CPM leaders were on Monday stopped from visiting violence-hit Kaliachak in Malda district.
Citing that Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed in the areas, the district authorities sent back a fact-finding team of BJP MPs Bhupendra Yadav, Ram Vilas Vedanti and S S Ahluwalia – the Darjeeling MP – soon after they alighted the Gaur Express at Malda Town station at 6.10 am. Hours later, a CPM delegation was also denied permission to visit Kaliachak.
On January 3, a massive Muslim protest rally against Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari for his remarks against Prophet Muhammad had turned violent in Malda, in which two persons reportedly were injured. The protesters set on fire about two dozen vehicles and attacked the Kaliachak police station.
On Monday, after the BJP team reached Malda Town station, an SDPO stopped them, saying they cannot visit Kaliachak. When the delegation wanted to go to the circuit house to speak to the SP and the district magistrate, they were again denied permission.
After some time, the SP and the DM arrived at the station’s waiting lounge. Following discussions that went on for over an hour, the BJP team was made to board the Howrah-bound Shatabdi Express and sent back to Kolkata.
Once they reached Howrah station, the MPs said they would take up the matter with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee. Ahluwalia said the team will request Singh to constitute a high-power committee to probe the matter. “The purpose of the visit was to console the people, to restore their confidence that something like this will not happen in future. Due to pressure from the state government, the district administration said that we cannot go there as Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed,” he added.
“We said we were law-abiding senior MPs and have not come to instigate anyone… but the officers said that our presence might lead to deterioration of the law and order situation,” Ahluwalia said.
Later in the afternoon, CPM MP Mohammed Salim, who too was prevented from reaching Kaliachak, said: “I, along with a party leader, was going to Kaliachak. It was pre-planned, but all of a sudden, a huge police contingent stopped us. We were stopped at Amriti, which is 35 km from Kaliachak.”
“I am an MP and was there to listen to the people… but police officers refused to pay any heed to my words. The police and administration are definitely trying to hide something and thus, leaders from other parties are being stopped from going there,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Kaliachak police station, which was ransacked on January 3, has already been renovated.
While none of the damaged vehicles could be seen within its compound, broken doors and windows have been replaced with new ones. The damaged building has been repaired and given a fresh coat of paint. The trees, which were brunt, have been chopped off. Bright lights have also been put up and the road in front of the police station, which was earlier used as a thoroughfare, has been shut.
Police said one more person has been arrested on Sunday night.
“Badruddin Momin alias Kinu was arrested, taking the number of arrests in the case to 11,” said an officer.
DIG (Malda Range) C S Lepcha visited the police station on Monday evening to take stock of the situation. “The investigation is on… not much can be said at the moment,” she said.