New Delhi: On January 3'rd 2016, the Anjuman Ahle Sunnatul Jamaat (ASJ), an Islamist organisation, conducted a meeting at Kaliachak in south Malda, West Bengal, to protest a blasphemous statement allegedly made by Uttar Pradesh Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari, against the Prophet Mohammad. This demonstration soon turned violent. The protestors set fire to around two dozen vehicles and attacked the Kailachak police station.
As the news of the violence broke, every media house had a different take on it. Some print media alleged that the outbreak was probably linked to the local dynamics of the area, where workers of the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) are suspected of being involved in opium and cattle smuggling. While some online publications believed that the violence was the result of the tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the TMC as each of them want to polarise votes in the area of Malda which was once a congress fiefdom. Whereas the TV media compared this incident with the Dadri lynching, claiming that it was communal in nature.
So, what is the true story?
Association for Democratic Rights (APDR), a civil rights organisation, reported that the incident was far from a communal one. The report suggests that it was a sheer example of lawless atmosphere in the State. Thus proving that the political parties added a communal flavour to the incident to instigate the people.
There is a staunch reason why the political parties are fishing in the troubled waters. West Bengal will witness assembly election in 2016 and each party wants to influence the voters on the basis of religion. The area of Malda and adjacent Murshidabad is dominated by Muslims and both the BJP and TMC are fighting a war to dominate the area. The BJP is targeting the minority Hindu vote and the TMC is putting in efforts to appease the Muslim votes.
The ease with which the AASJ got permission for the protest implies that the administration and political heads of the TMC had vested interests. And the promulgation by the BJP of the incident being communal portrays their biassed ideology.
The TMC and BJP fear the probable alliance of CPI(M) and Congress which can jeopardise their chances to win the coming elections. Both the parties have a weak influence in the area of Malda in comparison to CPI(M) and are thus trying to change the scenario by hook or crook.
Finally, one can also not ignore the fact that the TV media also tried to label the incident as communal. The irresponsible journalism and discussing the incident without the cognize of the facts was an attempt to mislead the spectators.