Mamata Banerjee orders judicial probe into Bashirhat riots, BJP MPs sent back

Kolkata : West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee appealed for calm in Basirhat and Baduria on Saturday, hours after the police arrested a team of three BJP MPs comprising Meenakshi Lekhi, Om Mathur and Satyapal Singh while they were on the way to Basirhat.

“We will ask for a judicial inquiry into incidents at Baduria, Basirhat,” Banerjee said at a press conference.

Earlier in the morning, police arrested three MPs of a BJP central team — Lekhi, Mathur and Singh while they were driving to Basirhat.

The team was stopped at Michaelnagar near Dum Dum airport, the same spot where the police intercepted a state BJP team on Friday.

Police officers cited prohibitory orders in different parts of Basirhat sub-division to prevent Lekhi’s team from proceeding to the areas scarred by communal clashes this week.

“It’s strange. You are claiming that the situation is under control. Yet you are preventing us from going,” Lekhi was heard telling the police officers.

Separately on Saturday, the BJP took out a protest rally in Kolkata against the violence that has rocked Basirhat. “We will go to Basirhat and speak to the people. We will find out the situation there and the trouble that the locals are facing,” Lekhi had told the media after she landed in Kolkata.

Bashirhat, Baduria and Swarupnagar in North 24 Parganas district that border Bangladesh have been reeling under violence with mobs setting ablaze shops and buildings and clashing with police after a Facebook post by a school student angered Muslims.

Locals claim that goons from outside the affected areas were involved in the violence. However, on Saturday morning, the situation in Basirhat was peaceful with no incidents of violence reported since Friday.

On Friday the state government did not allow teams of CPI(M) and Congress to travel to Basirhat. A day earlier chief minister Mamata Banerjee had urged opposition leaders not to visit the area till normalcy returned.

Meanwhile, the Bengal government has returned an additional 400 paramilitary BSF troops sent for deployment in the riot-hit areas of North 24-Parganas district, Union home ministry sources said on Saturday.

The state government has its own security forces like the Eastern Frontier Rifles and was not deploying them, they said. Instead, it was blaming the central government, the sources said.

Four BSF companies (comprising 100 personnel each) were sent to Basirhat and two day back, four additional companies were also dispatched, but these were returned by the state government, the ministry sources said.

The MHA’s response came after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the central government has a non-cooperative attitude and the additional four companies were never sent.

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