A ‘fact-finding’ team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs was on Monday stopped by district authorities from visiting Kaliachak which was hit by violence on December 3, as the political battle between Mamata Banerjee government and BJP over the incident hotted up.
MPs Bhupendra Yadav, Ram Vilas Vedanti and SS Ahluwalia, the lone BJP member of Parliament from the state, disembarked from Gaur Express at Malda Town station at around 6 am but were asked by the police and district administration officials to turn back as prohibitory orders had been promulgated in Kaliachak.
“This act of West Bengal government is condemnable,” Yadav said as the MPs were forced to return by Howrah-bound Shatabdi Express.
The MPs stayed in the VIP lounge of the station for nearly three hours where they discussed the issue with senior district officials.
“The purpose of the visit was to console the people, to restore their confidence that something like this will not happen in future. Due to pressure from the state government, the district administration said that we cannot go there as Section 144 CrPC has been imposed.
“We are not here to incite or instigate anyone. We are law-abiding citizens and senior MPs but the officials said that that we are public figures and our appearance will create problems....the normalcy they have achieved will break down,” Ahluwalia said.
The three leaders said they were here to understand the chain of events in Kaliachak, in the east Indian state of west Bengal, that led to the violence.
However, the area has been made out of bounds for BJP leaders since the incident. On January 6, another BJP delegation led by Shamik Bhattacharya, its lone MLA in West Bengal Assembly, was not allowed to visit Kaliachak village, about 30 km from here.
Violence had broken out at Kaliachak on December 3 over an alleged remark of a BJP leader. Protesters had set fire to a police station and damaged vehicles.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said there was no communal tension in the area and described the incident as a fallout of an issue between BSF and the local people.
Several policemen have been transferred from Kaliachak police station following the incident.
Asked if he raised with the officials the issues of communal tension and the role of police, Ahluwalia said that they were informed that the investigation was still on.
“We will give out report to party chief Amit Shah,” he said.
The CPI(M) too has attacked the state government saying, “Kaliachak incident has shown that it has completely failed to control communal incidents and overtones.”