Ram Navami: Bengal police on 'high alert' ahead of Hindu Jagran Manch's 5,000 religious processions | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ram Navami: Bengal police on 'high alert' ahead of Hindu Jagran Manch's 5,000 religious processions

Apr 17, 2024 10:36 AM IST

Ram Navami celebrations in Bengal have become a political battleground in recent years with rallies escalating into major political face-offs and communal riots

Several police stations across West Bengal are on high alert to avert any communal tension ahead of Ram Navami celebrations in the state, The Indian Express has reported. The Hindu Jagran Manch will reportedly take out about 5,000 religious processions at ward or panchayat-level in all districts of the state. The organisation, affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has also planned big processions in Barasat, Siliguri and Kolkata’s Burrabazar.

An artist draws wall graffiti on the eve of the Ram Navami festival, in Hooghly on Tuesday.(ANI)
An artist draws wall graffiti on the eve of the Ram Navami festival, in Hooghly on Tuesday.(ANI)

The district administration in Hooghly, Howrah, Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur, Asansol and Barrackpore — which have experienced communal tensions in the past during Ram Navami celebration— are also on alert, the newspaper reported.

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The police have said anyone found flouting law and order would be strictly dealt with.

Also Read | Row over Ram Navami across parties ahead of Phase 1 voting

“No public display of weapons during processions on the festive occasion will be allowed,” an unidentified police officer told The Indian Express. "Some traditional groups and akharas have been given permission. Even their processions will be videographed.”

Ram Navami celebrations have turned into a political battleground in recent years with rallies escalating into major political face-offs and even communal riots.

Clashes had erupted in Howrah on March 30 last year and later spread to two other districts, North Dinajpur and Hooghly. Ten people were injured.

Earlier this week, the Calcutta high court on Monday granted permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Anjani Putra Sena to take out Ram Navami processions in Howrah on April 17 while imposing certain conditions. The state government had sought to stop the procession, proposing an alternative route.

Also Read | Ram temple in Ayodhya to open for 19 hours on Ram Navami

Meanwhile, the Hindu Jagran Manch said that it expects lakhs of people to join the Ram Navami processions on Wednesday.

“Some of our processions are likely to see participation by lakhs of people. It’s a big day for us. As far as maintaining law and order is concerned, police should take care of it. I would just like to appeal to people to ensure that people of all faiths are allowed to celebrate their festivals equally and the others shouldn’t create any hindrance,” Hindu Jagran Manch member Subhajit Roy Manch told the daily.

Ram Navami procession: PM Modi, Mamata Banerjee trade barbs

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of plotting to halt the Ram Navami festivities in West Bengal, while chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP was planning to spark riots in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing election rallies in Raiganj and Balurghat, Modi hailed the high court's decision to allow VHP procession in Howrah, calling it as a "victory for truth.".

“I know that the TMC, like always, tried all means and hatched conspiracies to stall Ram Navami celebrations in the state. But truth triumphs. The court has given permission. Tomorrow processions will be held with full faith and devotion,” Modi said at Balurghat in South Dinajpur district.

 

On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of trying to engineer riots, two days ahead of the first phase of elections.

"BJP is trying to engineer riots in the state on April 17, aiming to reap electoral dividends in the first phase of elections on April 19. We have information that they are planning to incite communal polarisation in the state," she claimed at a poll rally in Jalpaiguri, according to PTI.

The TMC supremo also alleged that after the clashes, the BJP would use the National Investigation Agency to arrest TMC leaders on fake charges.

"I urge our supporters and the peace-loving people of West Bengal not to fall into their trap and engage in clashes. People must be vigilant to thwart the BJP's plan to incite riots for votes," she said.

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