The day we were reminded of Noakhali 1946
Hindu Samhati Activist Leads Team to Investigate During Riots in DeGanga
When Prokash Chandra Das started his journey to Deganga at 4am on 7th September, he thought that this was one more of case of intimidation, of poor Hindu villagers by Muslim goons, something that he has gotten accustomed to, as the North 24 Pargana district coordinator for Hindu Samhati. The evening before, he had received frantic calls from some Hindus in Deganga, a village in the North 24 Pargana district of West Bengal , about 40 kilometers from Kolkata. Such call come almost every week as Prokash rushes from village to village with his team of volunteers. But later that night as call kept coming, Prokash in turn called more people to gather more information on what was happening at Deganga. But nothing much was available. So he slept for a few hours and started of for Deganga at the break of dawn.
After about three hours, the Hindu Samhati team reached Barasat Badu, from where their team set off for Deganga on motorcycles. On the way they were stopped by a Muslim group at Udayanpalli, about 10 kilometers from Deganga. The group wielding swords, axes and crowbars, threatened them if they tried to go any further.
Finding themselves outnumbered and unarmed, the Hindu Samhati workers turned back and took a more circuitous route to Deganga. The streets were deserted and the only people visible were small groups of young Muslims on street corners, many carrying swords. At Khejurdanga, they were again challenged by a group of Muslims, while they sped forward. By 4pm they had reached Bishwanathpur, and for the first time saw Hindu villagers slowly coming out of hiding. They informed Prokash and his team that the Police, the Rapid Action Force (a counter riot police unit) and Eastern Frontier Rifles were patrolling the troubled spots and it was relatively safe to venture out, even though curfew was in place and attacks were still going on in isolated areas.
After another hour, the Hindu Samhati team finally reached Deganga. The streets there were deserted and the Hindus that were still there, had barricaded themselves inside their houses, while the paramilitary forces were patrolling the streets. Hospital Road, the main street wore a deserted look. Prokash and his team were taken to the Anathbandhu Samiti Club at Kartikpur, Deganga, by the local contact where they spoke to the local families. There they narrated the horrific events of September 6. The Muslim mobs had descended on the area in vans and trucks provided by a rich Islamist who owns a transportation company. For the whole day they molested Hindu women, looted shops and houses, and then burnt them down. The local police was called in, but they could do precious little. Instead of swiftly bringing the situation under control by using lethal force against the attackers, they stood as mute spectators as they were not given orders to counteract decisively by the local authorities. Sub Inspector Sushanta Barui was beaten up mercilessly and Sub Inspector Janoki Bakshi, was seriously wounded in the mob attack.
Tapas Ray’s clinic was looted and shops owned by Haren Bakshi, Badal Ghosh and Tarun Bhowmick, Bhaben Ghosh, Kena Sarkar, Kartik Baidya were looted and then burnt. Along Hospital Road, shops owned by Santu Das, Mithu Biswas, were looted and destroyed. Ambika Tiles, a local construction retail was looted and destroyed and truckloads of material were taken away. The Hindu Samhati team saw a minivan owned by Partha Das, a local businessman was still smouldering. The Muslim mobs came prepared with thousands of broken bottles that they piled up at the all major road entry points to the city, and paramilitary forces could be delayed from reaching Deganga. They carried swords, axes, machetes, and brickbats. Their movements were well coordinated and the mob even included teenagers who were helping carry the loot away. Prokash’s team returned the next day and saw a few press reporters taking pictures of the devastation. At the Kartikpur Hindu temple, about 2 kilomters from Deganga, the Muslim mobs had broken the Hindu deities and defecated in the temple premises. The local Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Mehboob Akhtar refused permission to do so and the photographs were destroyed.
For Debarati Banik (name changed), the future will never be the same again. Debarati is physically and psychologically traumatized cannot sleep and eat. She is scared of crowds and gatherings. As Durga Puja, the most important Hindu festival for Bengal arrives, the people of Deganga are afraid of the months to come. The Muslims warned of more attacks, and the blood curdling cries of claiming entire Bengal for Islam still haunts their memories.
For people in India, life goes on as usual.
Posted by Hindu Samhati's International Media Communications Team