THE POLICE are looking for 51 people, who had signed a letter issued by Muslim organisation Edara-e-Shariyah, seeking permission to hold the gathering on January 3, which ended in violence at Kaliachak in Malda.

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 had set on fire about two dozen vehicles and attacked the Kaliachak police station, setting it on fire.

“The office of Edara-e-Shariyah, on the first floor of Keramat Ali Market on Paanchtala Masjid Road at Kaliachak, has been under lock and key since January 3. The phones used by these people have been switched off. We don’t want to be hyperactive because this may spark off another communal issue,” said an officer of Kaliachak police station on Tuesday.

Police are also likely to interrogate two leaders from the area — CPM’s Abdul Rauf and Trinamool Congress’ Ashadul Biswas. The two had allegedly mobilised the crowd on January 3. While Rauf is the husband of former CPM sabhadipati of Kaliachak, Biswas — who had defected from the CPM to the Trinamool in 2011 — is the party observer of the area. “Though there is no formal complaint against any of them, we might call them for questioning,” the officer said.
When contacted, Malda SP Prasun Bandopadhyay said: “We have got several names and are verifying the same. More than arresting people, we should be careful that people are not harassed.”

Regarding members of Edara-e-Shariyah, he said: “The investigation has just started… we have to see whether they were involved before they are called for questioning.”

He confirmed that the name of Abdul Rauf has been mentioned in the FIR and that he is absconding. “Several agencies are investigating the matter… We are all in the process of gathering information from different sources. Till now, 11 arrests have been made in the case…,” said Bandopadhyay.

Muzammil Ahmed, a youth affiliated to Edara-e-Shariyah, who was traced by our team said: “Ours is a religious organisation and we had informed the police about the gathering beforehand. They could not provide enough security and some anti-social elements, who mingled with the crowd, attacked the police station.”

He went on to claim that leaders of Edara-e-Shariyah were afraid that they would be arrested for holding a peaceful programme.