Communal violence broke out in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district following a Facebook post, triggering arson, and torching of vehicles, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Tuesday.
There were reports that the central government has rushed 300 paramilitary personnel to control the violence which spread to a few more areas on Tuesday.
“We support social media but the central government has an agenda. Sometimes it is to create a hate group and cause riots via Facebook. Yesterday’s incident is like that. There have been false posting of pictures which don’t have any link to reality,” Banerjee told the media here while replying to questions about rumours being spread through social media posts about incidents at Baduria under Basirhat sub-division.
She said the person who posted the objectionable matter on Facebook was arrested immediately.
“After his arrest things should have been controlled. But we saw another group went on rampage and increased the communal rift. I condemn this incident.. After the youth was arrested, road blockades were put up,” she said.
Banerjee said cars were also torched.
Eyewitnesses said police were attacked and one of their vehicles torched.
“We could not sleep the whole night yesterday. But I say this with regret that after doing so much there is still communal rioting. How many Facebook posts will you stop? If a Facebook post leads to communal riots, there won’t be worse times than this,” said Banerjee, urging both sides not to do politics with religion.
“Some religious leaders are doing this for the sake of money. I am sorry to say. Don’t play with fire. We have the list of cars that have been torched.”
She warned the rioters that nobody would be spared and said Facebook posts should be countered on Facebook itself and not by rushing on to the streets.
“Why are you on the streets and not countering it (the Facebook post) there (on Facebook)? If police had opened fire, 100 people would have died. I cannot fire on the masses.
“I warn both the community leaders, my patience should not be taken as my weakness. I will not tolerate this hooliganism. It is because of you that I had to face so much insults,” she said.
Banerjee, who holds the Home portfolio, also minced no words in criticising police for the violence.
“Police is also at fault to some extent.. I had told police to be careful. Facebook should have been blocked when this happened yesterday.”
Banerjee also blamed Hindu outfits like the Bajrang Dal, as well as some miscreants backed by the BJP.
“some BJP miscreants are there and their leaders are spreading this. Who are these people?”
Taking an indirect dig at PM Modi for his “sweet talk” during his foreign visits, she said: “They have divided this country and on foreign soil there is all sweet talk.”
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: “These incidents of communal violence are frequently occurring now.”
On the other hand, the Left parties demanded an all-party meeting and deployment of the army, if necessary, to control the trouble.