Rajnath Singh To Visit Violent Malda on Jan 18


English Bazaar: The violent clashes in Malda have set the stage for a fresh political confrontation between the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP ahead of the assembly polls in West Bengal, with Union home minister Rajnath Singh scheduling a visit to Malda on January 18.

The visit was finalised even as the Centre called for a report from the state’s chief secretary on the developments in the area. It comes in the wake of local BJP leaders and social workers calling on home minister here on Wednesday to complain against Trinamool Congress government’s handling of the violence.

Singh is expected to tour Kaliachak, which has been witness to communal tension over the past few days, leading to an attack on the local block development office (BDO) and a local police station.

The Malda police, it is alleged, was a “sitting duck to lawlessness in Kaliachak” since Sunday when miscreants ransacked the BDO and police station, triggering outrage on social media. Police reportedly sprung to action two days after the incident and made 10 arrests. They detained BJP MLA Shamik Bhattacharya on his way to Kaliachak.

The continuing violence has sent ripples all the way to Delhi prompting the Union home ministry to take note. Local BJP leader Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury, who called on Rajnath Singh in Delhi, said the home minister had agreed to tour Malda on January 18 to take stock of the Kaliachak violence.

The bedlam ensued from a religious congregation at the Kaliachak taxi stand on January 3 and went out of control of the organisers who failed to rein in the mob despite making desperate announcements on microphones. Thousands gathered to protest some “snide remarks” against their leader and staged a blockade on National Highway 34. Anti-socials of all shades — smugglers, men involved in illegal poppy cultivation, people dealing in fake currency — allegedly seized the opportunity and led a siege on a state bus and later a BSF vehicle passing through the area. Later, the frenzied mob vandalised the nearby Khaltipur Railway Station and finally the Kaliachak Police Station setting a part of it on fire. All this while, the police stood like a mute spectator and allowed the violence to continue for hours. They finally woke up when pulled up by their higher ups and have made 10 arrests so far.