Kolkata: Bikash Mitra (35), a youth from Pachla area of Howrah, joined the huge rally of the Left and associated parties in Kolkata on late Tuesday afternoon. Speaking to NewsClick, Mitra claimed that a "vicious campaign" of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was led by their former national spokeswoman Nupur Sharma, is actually a regular phenomenon used to rake communal divide across the country.
“In my area, both the dangers of majority communalism and minority fundamentalism are overtly present," said the resident of Pachla, which had seen largescale disturbances after a controversial comment by Nupur Sharma regarding Prophet Mohammad. "There were road blockades and even the National Highway was blocked for hours; vehicles were torched in my area as the locals had grudges against the Howrah rural police whose hand in the death of Alia University student Anis Khan is a known fact. Hence, when the Nupur Sharma comment about Prophet Muhammad came in, it created a tense situation in the area," he said.
Interestingly, after the Pachla incident, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had to remove her close confidante Soumya Roy, the Superintendent of Police of Howrah Grameen area, who is also the husband of Trinamool Congress MLA Lavlee Moitra. More than hundreds of youths from Pachla joined Tuesday's rally held by the Left and its associate parties in Kolkata, he said while talking to NewsClick.
Arindam Mukherjee, 53, walked the nearly three-kilometre road length from Ramlila Maidan to Mahajati Sadan in central Kolkata and raised slogans for the upkeep of peace in the state. "We are here to fight communal manoeuvres in Kolkata, whereby the atmosphere in the state is spoiled in favour of binary divide to rake up communal passion and gain mileage in the election, he said talking to NewsClick .
Over tens of thousands of people joined the fiery rally in Kolkata, and it took nearly 20 minutes to pass a given point on the road. The rally was resplendent with banners and festoons depicting the condition of the state in the present times.
The rally was joined by Left and associate parties' workers from Howrah, South 24 Parganas, and Kolkata districts. Workers of the CPI(M) CPI, AIFB, RSP, CPI(ML) Liberation, SUCI(C), RCPI, MFB, Workers Party, Bolshevik Party, CRLI, CPB, PDS, RJD, NCP, and JDU participated in the rally for peace.
The rally was led by Left Front Chairman Biman Basu, CPI(M) Politbureau member Suryakanta Mishra, CPI state secretary Swapan Banerjee, RSP General Secretary Manoj Bhattacharya, AIFB Bengal Committee secretary Naren Chatterjee, CPI(ML ) Liberation Politbureau member Kartick Pal, and SUCI state secretary Chandidas Bhattacharya.
Alongside, peace rallies were held in many other districts of the state on Tuesday in response to the call given by the 16 Left and associate parties.
After the untoward incidents, the Left and associate parties had sat in a meeting and called for observance of amity programmes throughout the state from June 15 to 21.
Following the violence in Howrah, which was triggered by Sharma's comments, security was tightened in neighbouring Kolkata at areas "considered sensitive" such as Park Circus, Khidderpore, Rajabazar and Mallickbazar.
Sharma's comments, along with those of BJP's Delhi media unit chief Naveen Jindal, sparked tensions across the country. These even led to condemnation from Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran. Sharma and Jindal were eventually expelled from the party.