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With Beef thrown into a Temple, Bengal Government worries as Minor Communal clashes cover the State

Ten districts of West Bengal have seen similar such communal incidents since October 2016 which is proving to be a major challenge for the state government

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(Representative image) Cows on Maheshwar Ghats, Wikimedia

Kolkata, Jan 31, 2017: A locality on the western edge of Kolkata’s Metiabruz area, Alampur remains to be in a very heated atmosphere ever since on January 23, some chunks of alleged beef were thrown into a temple. However, this Alampur incident is not a one of its kind and there have been similar cases as well. Ten districts of West Bengal have seen similar such communal incidents since October 2016 which is proving to be a major challenge for the state government.

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“I will not allow anarchy in Bengal,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday. “Police is dealing with such things with a strong hand. We will soon bring a strong legislation against arson, where anyone setting fire to government or private party will be have to pay. One political party is trying to fan violence,” she said. However, Banerjee did not mention BJP in her statements.

But, other political parties gave some strong statements in context of the minor communal clashes in Bengal. “Attacks on Hindus are going on in different parts of the state. Metiabruz is the latest in the series and the administration has failed to control them,” said Sayantan Basu, state BJP secretary.

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The Congress and the Left have also claimed that the situation was “getting dangerous” in Bengal. “Trinamool Congress brought in communal politics in Bengal by appeasing communities for political gains. Now things are going out of control,” said Abdul Mannan, Congress MLA and leader of the opposition in the Assembly.

Minor communal clashes have become a regularity in West Bengal as almost ten cases similar to the Alampur case have been reported. Since October, pockets and villages in Kaliachak, Chanchol (Malda district), Jalangi (Murshidabad), Chandannagar (Hooghly), Bhagabanpur (East Midnapore), Kharagpore (West Midnapore), Hajinagar, Kanchrapara (North 24 Parganas), Sankrail, Dhulagarh (Howrah), Katwa, Jamuria and Kaksha (Burdwan) have witnessed clashes.

On December 12 and 13, clashes in Dhulagarh (26 km from Kolkata) began after Muslims took out a religious procession through the main market road in Banerjeepara neighbourhood. Hindus objected, but the procession was allowed by the police.

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Houses and shops were set ablaze which left hundreds from both communities homeless after the clash. Police arrested 65 people but the clashes continued for the next few days.

The Dhulagarh incident, unlike others before it, got political attention with BJP, Congress and CPI(M) dispatching leaders to the spot. General secretary Sitaram Yechury was a part of the CPI(M) team. In other areas political parties were prevented by police to enter after the clash.

“One hand the government is giving stipends to Imams, but creates pressure and stops a seminar on Kashmir and Balochistan in Kolkata citing that it will create communal problem. Miscreants and radicals are taking advantage of this situation,” said Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, political science expert and former principal of Presidency college.

prepared by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

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Naseeruddin Shah Controversy: Is He An Anti-Nationalist?

It is strange how I never thought of Naseeruddin Shah as a Muslim until now when his religious identity is being used against him to prove he is anti-national.

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Naseeruddin Shah
Why is Naseeruddin Shah under attack? (Column: Bollywood Spotlight)

It is strange how I never thought of Naseeruddin Shah as a Muslim until now when his religious identity is being used against him to prove he is anti-national.

But hang on. Why is Naseer anti-national? Because he expressed trepidation about the future of this country and, more specifically, his children.

Here is what Naseer said: “The poison has already spread. It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back in the bottle. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands. In many areas we are witnessing that the death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer. I feel anxious thinking about my children. Because they don’t have a religion. Tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim’, they will have no answer. It worries me because I don’t see the situation improving anytime soon.”

I think he is pretty unique filmmaker
Naseeruddin Shah’s Controversy

I am a little lost after repeatedly reading this. Which part of the observation is anti-national? Have we all not felt the same terror grip our hearts in recent times as mobs decided to lynch alleged cattle-offenders? Or set on fire a rape victim who doesn’t withdraw her case against her offenders? Don’t we all worry about our children? Except maybe Anupam Kher, who thinks everything is hunky-dory in India today.

But you never know what will be deemed “anti-national” in today’s super-charged atmosphere of pseudo-patriotism, will you? Is it anti-national to say Vivek Oberoi playing the Prime Minister is a bit of a joke? Or is it seditious to suggest that demonetisation was a demoniacal disaster? Am I going to be branded anti-national for defending Naseer’s right to defend his family? Is it right to book him a ticket to Karachi because he spoke about his insecurities?

But I am happy to inform you that Naseer is not going anywhere. He is not wrong in feeling anxious about the future. And if he speaks up about his insecurities and is slammed for it, then isn’t it proof that he’s right in feeling insecure?

As the outspoken Swara Bhaskar said to me: “Quite simply, the attack on Naseeruddin Shah proves his point more than anything else. Intolerance is a government-approved malaise in this new Hindustan of ours.”

My dear Shabana Azmi is right in saying there should be some amount of distinction between the government and the national identity. If one criticises the government, one is not being anti-national. If one doesn’t watch Anupam Kher play Manmohan Singh, one is not pro-Congress. And if one disagrees with Mrs Kirron Kher that “The Accidental Prime Minister” (which coincidentally stars her husband) should be sent to the Oscars, one is not anti-national either.

The country is in the grip of an unprecedented culture of conformity. Everybody must love certain politicians to qualify as a true Indian. And if you have any reservations about any of the government’s policies (including reservations) you will be booked an air ticket to Pakistan. Or worse, forced to watch Vivek Oberoi play our Prime Minister on the day the film releases.

I threw away my Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehndi Hassan CDs the day Mrs Kher declared her husband’s film Oscar-worthy without seeing it. Am I a good Indian? (Bollywood Country)