Telinipara Riots: Politics Or Communalism?

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All around the world as the coronavirus spreads, the lockdowns intensify and abate, and as the people are trying to survive, the outbreaks of violence start to increase due to desperation. One such incident shook India.

On May 12, 2020, the Telinipara census town, a part of the Hooghly district, West Bengal experienced a violent riot by an angry mob who carried very lethal weapons with them. What is the reason behind it? Politics or Communalism?

Communal Tensions Common

Telinipara is the third ward of Bhadreshwar in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. Telinipara was once famous for its jute industry. The area of Bhadreshwar has mixed people and communal tensions became common there.

The communal violence started there when the demolition of Babri Masjid happened and since then there were many communal outbreaks of violence happening periodically in the Bhadreshwar area.

But the May 12th Telinipara violence shocked the people living there leaving them in fear of their own lives. 

This May 12th violence was a result of a squabble that occurred on May 10. Some people living in the area were tested positive for the coronavirus. It is said that the other party tried to stop them from using the public toilet and they refused, resulting in a small fight among the people. 

It ended peacefully with the police interrupting in the spat. And the next day passed with nothing to worry about. But on May 12th around 12.30 to 1.30, a mob of more than 100 people descended on the town and carried out a perfectly planned attack.

The mob carried lethal weapons like petrol bombs, swords, and so on. They looted and committed arson all around the Telinipara area leaving the residents nothing else other than the clothes they were wearing. 

The residents there called the police as soon as the attack started but before the police arrived, the job was done. The police were also attacked by the mob when they tried to interrupt.

Selective Attacks

It is said that the mob consisted of ‘outsiders’ who with the help of some of the locals carried out, the attack. The houses that are burnt belonged to only one community and that is why it is suspected that the locals are also involved.

A shop belonging to the one community was burnt down to the ground but the shops next to them that belonged to the other party were intact without any evidence of destruction.

The Telinipara streets were completely covered by rumbles, big stones, and rocks, bricks of the houses, etc. The gas cylinders inside the houses exploded bringing down the roof of the house and damaging the entire house. The two-storey houses took real damage and some of the residents almost lost their lives.

A victim of the attack said that she and her child would have lost their lives if she had not come out of the house when petrol bombs were thrown on the roof of her house. The child started coughing because of breathing troubles due o the gas release in their house.

When asked the police officers there said that the “attack must be planned because the outsiders will not be able to differentiate the houses and the shops. Of course, the locals are involved in it.”

But the locals said that none of the politicians visited them at that time and this creates the suspicion of whether the incident is because of the hatred towards the community or because of the supposed politics.

But when the first round of violence ended on May 10, the MP of Hooghly Lok Sabha Constituency, Locket Chatterjee tried to visit the attacked part of town the next morning but was stopped from entering.

The state Home Department said some people are trying to do this for their own political interests and they are trying to spread the communal virus.

“A total of 129 people have been arrested and more will be arrested. Strong action was taken against the criminals”, said the Home Department.

The social media played a very important role in the communal violence. Whatsapp groups were created with the name “corona se bachao” and false information was circulated among the groups and fake websites were developed. Police took action against the fake news providers.

The Internet service was stopped for a week around the area and section 144 was also imposed on the area and the violence was taken under control by the Police.

Written by - Jaime A. 

Edited by - Rudransh Khurana

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