2016 Dhulagarh riots

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On 13 and 14 December 2016, mobs attacked and looted shops and houses and set them on fire in Dhulagarh in Howrah district of West Bengal following an altercation on 12 December 2016 between processionists and local residents who observing religious rituals.[1][2][3] The possession was attacked following which dozens of homes were burnt and destroyed in retaliation.[4] Though the state government denied any incident of communal riot in Dhulagarh, yet the victims seem to disagree with it.

Background[edit]

Dhulagarh is a small industrial and business hub in Howrah District.[5] It is only 20 km from Nabanna, the seat of state government in the city of Howrah and only 28 km from Kolkata. Dhulagarh falls under Panchla block[6] In the second decade of 21st century the occurrences of communal violence have sharply increased in West Bengal. In 2013 there were 106 instances of communal violence in West Bengal compared to the previous years which had an average of 15-20 each year.[5]

Attacks[edit]

On December 12, Hindus and Muslims clashed when the Mawlid possessions were not allowed to carry out. Both groups hurled bombs at each other.[7][8] On December 13, clashes between two communities (Muslims and Hindu) erupted following religious celebrations of Milad-ul-Nabi in Dhulagarh. The mob hurled bombs at the local residents.[9]Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob[10](which consisted of Muslims) ("the 'minority' community" as report states)[11]participated in in a religious procession of Mawlid(Milad-ul-Nabi) [12]started charging bombs at the local houses.[13] However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.[14]

Local residents(Hindus) claim that they had to flee with their children and elderly as soon as the mob hurled country-made bombs at their houses. Later, the mob allegedly looted the houses and fled with the money and jewellery, later, setting it on fire.[15]

“Nothing is left. We are looted of all our belongings. They ransacked and vandalised our houses and eventually set them on fire. We could not save a single penny from our houses, only managed to save our children and ran for life,” said a local.[16]

“That day was normal, just like any other day. Some of my neighbours were running. I was thinking whether something was happening. Nobody was ready to talk about it. Then a hoard of people arrived, and started hurling bombs. They looted us and set our houses on fire,” said 28 year old Khara, who stands as the sole guard of his house – the others have fled the area.[8]

“My house, shops were set on fire. This entire lane was set on fire. The temple nearby was attacked with at least 25 bombs. This went on for 3-4 hours,” Khara stated.

Maitri Mondal a resident said she heard chants "Pakistan Zindabad"[17] slogans which were raised by the mob.

The local police remained inactive while the mobs resorted to loot and arson.They just gave 2 minutes to the Hindus to flee away. In one place the police arrived on the spot after the mobs had left.[18] In another they ordered the residents to leave within two minutes and then watched on as the mobs looted and ransacked the house.[18] In yet another the police came on time but they themselves fled when the mob came.[18] A week after the incident, the state government transferred Sabyasachi Raman Mishra, the Superintendent of Police, Howrah (Rural) for failing to contain the communal riots.[19]

The state government banned the entry of the opposition political parties and the media into the troubled area.[18] The delegations of Congress, BJP and CPI(M) were stopped by the police from entering Dhulagarh.[18]

A special report filed by an India Today correspondent talks to victims of the riots. These victims confirm that the state administration was unable to protect them. In fact, the state police have been accused of being a silent spectator while the rioters burnt and looted their houses .[1] [archive][20]

Valuables like jewellery, cash, electronics have either been looted or burnt by the rioters. The state government has announced compensation of 35,000 rupees to the victims, who find it totally inadequate given the losses they have suffered.

It should be noted that Zee News was among the first one to report on the riots, because of which an FIR was filed against them. India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai , a renowned journalist, too had rejected Zee News reports, but now his now channel’s reports confirm communal riots.[21]

A report by Huffingtonpost[22] says that 51 people have been arrested. "It all began here in front of my eyes. They(the Muslims) had come prepared with bombs and stones" said one of the eye witnesses. "They wanted to take the procession through the lanes dotted by our Homes. When they were asked not to go inside, they began to hurl bombs", Das said. The report also quoted "It is only a few seconds later that I realise Rabin Das' neighbours are all Muslims who have been forced to flee the area as the Hindus charged at them and drove them away". According to another local resident Laskar, "We have always been treated as second class citizens in this country. I have heard that the Hindus disrespected our religion the day the religion processions were taken out, and then they charged at our men without provocation."

Aftermath[edit]

The state police claimed that the violence was the outcome of a dispute arising out of a local issue.[19] According to a senior state government official, strict actions have been taken on those involved in the violence.[23] Sumit Kumar, the newly appointed Superintendent of Police, Howrah (Rural) stated that violence ceased after 14 December and 58 arrests were made in connection with the violence on 13 & 14 December.[19] Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Governor of Bengal has asked Surajit Kar Purakayastha, the DGP to prepare a report on the incident.

The state government had started compensating each family with INR 35,000, whose houses were destroyed in the communal riots.[23] The victims stated that the compensation was simply not enough as the losses were much more.[19][23] More than two weeks after the communal riots, the victims remained homeless[18] as they were wary of returning to their homes in Dhulagarh.[18][23] No minister from the state government visited the victims.

A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in Calcutta High Court, demanding judicial enquiry of Dhulagarh riot. The first hearing of this case has been conducted in the division bench of Honourable Justice Nishita Mhatre (Acting Chief Justice, Calcutta High Court) and Honourable Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty on 20th January,2017. Mr. Kuntal Mazumder,lawyer of the petitioner, claimed that Police has not taken any action even though such a large-scale violence took place and demanded judicial enquiry of Dhulagarh riot under the supervision of Calcutta High Court. On the other hand, Government Pleader & Advocate Mr. Avratosh Mazumder has pleaded that 14 separate cases have been lodged in this incident and Police has arrested few culprits. After hearing the arguments from both sides, the division bench has instructed the State Government to submit an affidavit, stating what are the measures taken by State Government on this incident of violence. The State Government has to submit this affidavit within three weeks and the next hearing of this case will be conducted after six weeks. [24]

Reactions[edit]

Siddharth Nath Singh of BJP accused the minority cell of Trinamool Congress of actively engineering the riots.[25] The West Bengal unit of the BJP announced that it will move the National Human Rights Commission over the issue of communal riots in Dhulagarh.[25] The BJP claimed attackers were brought in from outside to create trouble in the presence of Trinamool Congress MLA Gulshan Mullick. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha M.P. Roopa Ganguly had alleged that Gulshan Mullick was present when the violence was taking place. Roopa Ganguly said that attackers had also come from Metiabruz and other places.[26]

Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, denied any incident of communal riots in Dhulagarh.[19][23] She termed the events as a 'small incident' and a 'local problem' and categorically denied any communal problem. She alleged that wrong information was being spread in the social media.[23] Mamata Banerjee has also been accused of destroying 'the secular fabric of West Bengal' as an aftermath of the Dhulagarh Riots and a series of similar incidents during her tenure as the Chief Minister.[5]

Trinamool Congress alleged that BJP and RSS was spreading misinformation regarding the incidents and tried to provide a communal twist to a local incident.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  1. "The Truth Behind The Riots In Bengal That The Media Doesn't Report" [archive]. Huffington Post India. Retrieved 14 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Dhulagarh riots: West Bengal town on the boil after communal violence" [archive]. Firstpost. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "What actually happened during the Dhulagarh riots?" [archive]. Dailyo. Retrieved 14 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Howrah: 25 held after communal clash" [archive]. The Indian Express. 17 December 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Merchant, Minhaz (28 December 2016). "How Mamata tore the secular fabric of Bengal into shreds" [archive]. Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "BLOCK WISE DETAILS OF MINORITY POPULATION AS CENSUS 2001 :HOWRAH" [archive]. West Bengal State Marketing Board. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Dhulagarh riots: West Bengal town on the boil after communal violence" [archive]. Firstpost. Firstpost. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 "TIMES NOW Report From Dhulagarh: The Story India Isn't Reporting" [archive]. Times Now. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. TIMES Now (23 December 2016). "TIMES NOW Report From Dhulagarh: The Story India Isn't Reporting" [archive]. TimesNow. Retrieved 15 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Dhulagarh riot: Pressure mounts on Bengal govt as Governor summons DGP | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis" [archive]. dna. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "West Bengal: Dhulagarh in Howrah simmers after clashes over a religious procession" [archive]. m.indiatoday.in. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "West Bengal: Dhulagarh in Howrah simmers after clashes over a religious procession" [archive]. m.indiatoday.in. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Dhulagarh riot: Pressure mounts on Bengal govt as Governor summons DGP | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis" [archive]. dna. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Dhulagarh riots: West Bengal town on the boil after communal violence" [archive]. Firstpost. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Rather than protecting, Bengal police gave us 2 minutes to flee our own homes: Dhulagarh riot victims tell India Today" [archive]. m.indiatoday.in. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Dhulagarh riots: West Bengal town on the boil after communal violence" [archive]. Firstpost. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Rather than protecting, Bengal police gave us 2 minutes to flee our own homes: Dhulagarh riot victims tell India Today" [archive]. m.indiatoday.in. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 Kundu, Indrajit (28 December 2016). "Dhulagarh riots: They took everything burnt my house, while cops watched; victims tell horror tales" [archive]. India Today. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Kundu, Indrajit (30 December 2016). "'We can't live here anymore': Terrified Dhulagarh riot victims who suffered mob violence claim Mamata Banerjee government is trying to cover it up" [archive]. Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "West Bengal: Dhulagarh in Howrah simmers after clashes over a religious procession" [archive]. m.indiatoday.in. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Zee News booked for Dhulagarh riot coverage, claims editor Sudhir Chaudhary" [archive]. The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2 April 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "The Truth Behind The Riots In Bengal That The Media Doesn't Report" [archive]. Huffington Post India. Retrieved 28 March 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 "Mamata Banerjee denies riot in Dhulagarh, blames social media" [archive]. Indian Express. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. http://bangla.eenaduindia.com/State/Kolkata/2017/01/20142745/What-step-has-been-taken-in-Dhulagarah-clash-asks.vpf [archive]
  25. 25.0 25.1 "BJP to move NHRC over Dhulagarh riots" [archive]. The Hindu. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Dhulagarh Violence: Alleged Bomb Maker Arrested, Say Police Sources" [archive]. NDTV.com. Retrieved 2 January 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>