The protest against alleged derogatory remarks against the Prophet, turning violent was pre-planned to protect the interests of fake currency racket and terrorising the minority Hindu population of bordering areas of West Bengal
On January 3, 2016, what happened on NH34, in Kaliachak block of Malda District in West Bengal is said to be a mass protest by a mob of Muslims. It was against the alleged derogatory remarks made about the Prophet. But if one goes by the pamphlet, giving call for the protest to the pan-Islamic brethren with phone numbers, it was not so. It was a pre-planned act. In reality, the alleged derogatory remark was made 33 days before in Uttar Pradesh. The perpetrator was immediately arrested and is still behind the bars. Then what was the purpose of this protest in the bordering district of Malda. If we carefully follow the sequence and details of events that occurred on that day, we may get some answers.
The Sequence of Events
As per the version of the onlookers about 1.5 lakh people gathered in the name of Prophet at the main square of Kaliachak on NH-34. Some were also holding Pakistani flag. Soon the gathering started showing different colours within an hour’s time with provocative speeches and sloganeering. The mob took control of the highway, blocked the traffic and gradually started unleashing hell by first ransacking an NTBC bus that was passing by. The passengers managed to escape death by the skin of their teeth. Then the mob vandalised the Block Development Office (BDO) and nearby public property. Till then there was no apparent provocation that could explain the mob getting violent. When police intervened, clashes broke out. Bombs were reportedly hurled at the cops on duty. The mob, in thousands, then forcefully entered the police station. Inspector-in-charge Subhabrata Ghosh and others were injured. Scared policemen allegedly scampered away. Then the mob set ablaze the Kaliachak Police Station. Three ASIs—Ram Saha, Debdulal Sarkar, S Bhowmik and 4 policemen were injured while 10-12 police vehicles were damaged. A Kali Temple situated in the campus of police station was destroyed. Most importantly the confiscated arms, fake currency and opium seized by the police was looted and the arrested criminals were released from the lock-ups.
Questions to West Bengal Government on Kaliachak flare up
Then the mob moved towards the Hindu locality and soon it set ablaze 20 vehicles stranded on NH-34. Over 30 persons including police officers were injured while trying to stop them. Shani Temple, Durga Temple and other Hindu temples were also attacked in Baliadanga, a residential area behind the police station.
Around 25 houses and shops in a Hindu locality were also ransacked. The innocent residents and shopkeepers were looted and vandalised. A 22-year-old Hindu Samhati activist Gopal Tiwari received a gunshot; he was shot in the leg when he was resisting the attack on the Police Station. The violent mob started retreating only when in reaction to the attack on Kali Temple in the Hindu locality, Hindus started protesting. It took six hours for the police to bring the situation under control, after several rounds were fired in the air. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were also called in.
All these events have proved that protest called in the name of Prophet had a totally different ulterior motive. What was that?
The real Motives
There is a stark difference between what was shown in the name of protest and the information gathered by the NIA.
In the report of the NIA it has been clearly stated that all the violent activities undertaken by the protest seems to be pre-planned as evident from the fact that protesters were carrying lethal fire arms including petrol bombs. The aggressive posturing and usage of weapons also indicate the participation of trained personnel in the mob. In the three blocs of Kalichak, Mothabari and Baisbabnagar, as per the census, Hindus are in absolute minority with around 10 per cent of population and always dominated by the majority Muslim population. Situated along the 19 kilometres of open border with Bangladesh, according to locals, this area is the hub of opium (called as Postu Char in Bangla) production, illegal production and trafficking of fire arms and heavy flow of fake currency.
It has been clearly stated that in the name of religious sentiments, police and BSF personnel were systematically attacked. Burning the criminal records maintained at the Kalichak Police Station was the ulterior motive behind this mobilisation. The hard disk of computer installed in the Police Station was completely destroyed and Police patrolling vehicles were completely burnt. Amidst the protest, sloganeering against particular duty bound police officers were made demanding their heads. To negate the possibility of additional force reaching Malda, NH 34 and Sultanganj-Gaur Road was blocked. According to the information of intelligence officers, protesters were from Mehbatpur, Gopalgunj, Baliadanga, Mehdipur, Shohapur and Mothavari Malda District. In fact, people from bordering Bangladeshi district of Chaupai Nawabganj, under Shivganj Police Station also participated. It is said that villagers from Jaminpur, Dadanchak, Vishwanathpur, Mandal-pada and Mankasha of Bangladesh were also involved in the planning and execution. As per the CCTV footage and investigation by intelligence officers, the full proof planning was hatched in Bangladesh and one Saddam Sheikh of Jaminpur is allegedly the main mastermind. According to sources, main culprits in the fake currency racket, allegedly having close association with the D-company, Suleiman Mujumdar and Imran Mulla, were also involved in the planning.
As of now, fake currency of different denominations worth Rs 100 crore is awaiting in Sibganj, Bangladesh for entering into the markets of Bharat. Some strict measures by NIA and local police, has restricted this illegal business. The smugglers are facing difficult times as in 2014 itself, 82 cases were registered and 120 people were arrested in connection with the smuggling of fake currency. It amounted to the recovery of fake currency worth Rs 1,50,56,500. In 2015, the cases and arrests went upto 104 and 127 with recovery of fake currency worth Rs 2,78,56,000. Local paper, Dainik Vartaman has reported that through the phone number mentioned on the pamphlet distributed for the protest about 15-16 calls were made to the Grameen Phone network of Bangladesh.
In Vaishnavnagar and Kaliachak areas of Malda, at least 10-15 main dealers operating in the fake currency racket of D-company are present. They are assisted with 300-400 small agents. Even in 2011 secret report of Government of India, a Brigadier level ISI officer Shaukat Mehmood Sufi is named as kingpin of the operation with the help from Pakistani High Commissions in the neighbouring countries. In the last five years, he has visited Bangkok 12 times, Colombo 14 times and Dhaka 10 times. Out of the whole fake currency racket, 80 per cent notes enter Bharat from Kaliachak and Baisnabnagar border adjoining to Bangladesh. About 2,000 couriers—in this syndicate are operating in different parts of Bharat, including, Jamnagar, Delhi, Pune, Nagpur, Lucknow, Hissar, Mendak, Hyderabad, Thiruvananat-puram, Hissar, Bhopal etc.
Besides facilitating the interests of the fake currency racketeers the rioters had another motive, i.e. to force Hindu population still residing in that area to vacate their houses. It is alleged that Muslims in these bordering areas with tacit support from the ruling party and media successfully deceive everybody in the name of Prophet.
Basudeb Pal (With inputs from Nishant Das)