January 11, 2016

Don’t play with fire: Calm heads should prevail in the wake of Bengal’s Malda riots - Editorial, The Times of India (January 8, 2016)

Don’t play with fire: Calm heads should prevail in the wake of Bengal’s Malda riots
January 8, 2016, 12:01 am IST TOI Edit in TOI Editorials | Edit Page | TOI

With the situation in Kaliachak in Bengal’s Malda district remaining tense in the wake of recent mob violence, it’s advisable that all political parties refrain from trying to score political points. Last Sunday’s protest by Muslim groups against Hindu activist Kamlesh Tiwari’s derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad – which have also seen protests in other parts of the country – turned violent with dozens of vehicles burnt and the local police station and block development office vandalised. However, organisers of the protest – which saw at least 30,000 people participate – have distanced themselves from the hooligans.

Hence, two narratives of the incident have emerged. First, opposition parties in Bengal have accused the Mamata Banerjee administration of fomenting lawlessness in Malda by patronising criminal elements. Despite 10 arrests, they argue key accused of the Kaliachak violence remain at large because of their Trinamool connections. The local BJP unit has also blamed the Trinamool regime for deliberately engaging in communal politics that has a direct impact on border districts such as Malda. However, sections of the administration assert that the Kaliachak violence was orchestrated by local criminals and smugglers to get back at law enforcement authorities for their drives against them.

All of this comes at a time when Bengal is slated for assembly polls later in the year. Union home minister Rajnath Singh has scheduled a visit to Malda on January 18. However, both BJP and Trinamool should resist the temptation to use this riot to polarise voters. Given Bengal’s demographics, this could lead to disastrous consequences. That said, maintaining law and order is the state government’s responsibility. Plus, it must appear even-handed in dealing with such episodes. The Trinamool government should live up to its promise of poriborton and not continue Bengal’s legacy of political violence.

source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/dont-play-with-fire-calm-heads-should-prevail-in-the-wake-of-bengals-malda-riots/