KOLKATA: BJP workers clashed with police in some parts of West Bengal on Wednesday over celebrating the groundbreaking ceremony of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, amid a total lockdown in the state, officials said. Clashes were reported from Kharagpur in West Midnapore district, Narayanpur in North 24 Parganas, and Alipurduar town in north Bengal, among others.
A procession by BJP workers to mark the day was stopped by police in Kharagpur, leading to a scuffle.
“When they were stopped from going ahead with the march, a scuffle broke out between police and BJP activists. Several BJP workers have been arrested,” a senior police officer said.
Some policemen were also injured in the incident, he said.
In Alipurduar town, BJP workers were stopped from organising a ‘bhoomi poojan’ due to the total lockdown, leading to a tense situation.
BJP workers also tried to organise a ‘yagna’ in Narayanpur area but were stopped by some locals. Police said they had to use “force” to disperse the crowd.
“The BJP was trying to disturb the peace in the area but locals stopped them,” local Trinamool Congress leader Tapas Chatterjee said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who organised a ‘bhoomi poojan’ at his New Town residence, said the crackdown by police reflects the “anti-Hindu mindset” of the state government.
“We were requesting over the last few days to change the date of the total lockdown but it was not done. When devotees of lord Ram wanted to celebrate the day in a small way in Bengal, they were stopped by police. The TMC government has deliberately disregarded the sentiments of the Hindus in the state,” he said.
Hitting back, senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said the allegations are baseless.
“There is no harm in celebrations but the lockdown has been clamped due to Covid-19. All of us should respect that and abide by it,” he said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and BJP workers in Kolkata also celebrated the starting of the construction of the Ram temple. Rituals were held in areas such as Baghbazar and Burrabazar.
The morning puja was also held at the Ram temple in the central part of the city.
Several state BJP leaders also organised puja at their homes to mark the occassion.
Rituals were organised by BJP and right-wing outfits in several other parts of the state and they went off peacefully. A ‘yagna’ was organised by BJP workers in Rajganj in the Jalpaiguri district.
In many areas, Trinamool Congress workers also organised ‘Ram puja’ to mark the day.
The police have said that the lockdown to combat Covid-19 will be enforced strictly and precautions will be taken to thwart any attempt to disrupt the law and order situation “anywhere by anyone be it any political or non- political body”.