Saturday, 8 March 2014

Durga puja pandals in Narkeldanga face communal threat; deities destroyed and pandal pillaged

An altercation on a minor issue soon turned ugly on the day of Maha Saptami , 10th October,2013, in Narkeldanga area of Kolkata. It started when a few Muslim youths approached the Milan Sangha puja committee at Narkeldanga main road and instructed the members to stop the microphone during their ensuing namaaz.  Their posture and demeanour was unusually aggressive, which infuriated the members. The matter aggravated further when a police sergeant forcefully stopped the microphone; very soon the defiant members of puja committee turned it back on and continued to telecast the mangala stotram. As the time of namaaz was drawing nearer, Muslims youths went to the Narkeldanga mosque but after an hour they were found to approach Milan Sangha puja committee once more. The same group was joined now by a large number of Muslim youths armed with weapons including sticks, swords and daggers. Very soon they began to pillage the puja pandal. While the deity was stoned, the priest suffered severe injuries. Apart from desecration of deities, mangalghat or the sanctified pitcher was also crushed by the assailants. The en masse protest by Hindus to this communal conflagration led to a fury that was checked by hour-long efforts of police. But the police did not have any sigh of relief as turbulence erupted again in the day ofVijaya Dashami on 15th October in the noon when two unidentified Muslim youths riding a red-colored motorbike threw bones of cows to the puja pandal. Even if the officer-in-charge of Nakeldanga police station collected bones fast and made best efforts to retain communal harmony, tension is simmering in the locality.    

According to locals, this is not any new development in this area; however, there has been a surge in communal clashes in recent times and this year has seen its ugliest manifestation. The communal flare-up was not limited to an isolated zone in Narkeldanga; the Durga Puja pandal of Amra Sabai club located at 7/4, Chamu Singh Lane, had to take on threats on Maha Ashtami by local Muslim youths, hell-bent to stop use of microphone during namaaz. A problem which could have been solved amicably stirred up the neighborhood leading to overt clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Albeit the situation was brought under control through a persistent police force, the locality continues to simmer under communal tensions.
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