Kolkata, A three-member BJP parliamentary team sent by the party on a ‘fact finding mission’ to northern West Bengal’s violence-hit Kaliachak was stopped at the Malda railway station and forced to board a train for Kolkata on Monday by the district administration.
The three MPs — Bhupendra Yadav, Ram Vilas Vedanti and S.S. Ahluwalia — were detained soon after they alighted from the Gaur Express at Malda station on Monday morning on way to Kaliachak, about 30 km away.
Ahluwalia, the sole Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha member from Bengal, told reporters that the team’s only purpose was to ascertain the truth and restore the confidence of the people.
“We told the Malda district administration that we have come to ascertain the truth, we have not come to instigate or incite anyone. We wanted to restore the confidence of the people,” he said at Malda station.
Police told the MPs that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure had been clamped at Kaliachak.
“They (police) told us that our presence will lead to problems, and the situation would deteriorate,” said Ahluwalia.
The MPs spent three hours at the station, before they were “forced to board” the Shatabdi Express.
Yadav termed the act “condemnable”.
According to reports, protesting against remarks allegedly made to “hurt religious sentiments” in Uttar Pradesh, a large number of people on January 3 went on a rampage in Kaliachak, torching vehicles including those belonging to the Border Security Force (BSF) and also attacked a police station.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asserted that the violence was not the result of a communal strife but a fight between BSF personnel and residents of the area.
“It has been distorted and misinformed about what actually happened there. It was a struggle between the BSF and the locals and the state is not involved in any way in this matter.”
“The scuffle was between BSF and the locals and that (the incident) is not within the party, state government or state police. We just managed the situation,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the Bengal Global Business Summit on January 9.
While the Centre has sought a report from the Banerjee administration, BJP leader Rahul Sinha said Governor K.N. Tripathi has sent a report on the matter to the Centre.
Police have so far arrested 10 people and booked them for several offences including arson and damage to public property.
On January 6, another BJP team led by its only lawmaker in the state assembly Shamik Bhattacharya was also denied entry into Kaliachak.