The crude bomb blast in Kolkata’s Dum Dum market area in which a child was killed and nine bystanders were injured on Wednesday could well be the work of forces that are out to vitiate the atmosphere in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It is common knowledge that the key parties in the polls are playing to high stakes with the Trinamool Congress and the BJP at dagger’s drawn and a general atmosphere of deep animosity.
There is no evidence to suggest who could be behind the blast but the fact that despite there being no proof of the BJP or the RSS involvement, the Trinamool has gone ahead by hurling wild allegations of their involvement only goes to show that the blame game is already in full swing.
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That the BJP on its part while denying any involvement has blamed the law and order machinery and faulted the ruling dispensation of Mamata Banerjee for it is also on predictable lines.
The hard reality is that religious polarisation with the Mamata Banerjee government using the minority Muslims as a vote bank and the BJP-RSS seeking to consolidate the Hindus under its umbrella is fast building up. The minority Muslims, who are heavily outnumbered in many other states, are in substantial numbers in West Bengal and their voting pattern is crucial to the success of legislator-aspirants.
When the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) recently identified huge infiltration of refugees into Assam over the years from Bangladesh and earlier East Pakistan as it was called, fingers were also pointed at the way Muslim population had swelled in neighbouring West Bengal. It was then surmised that there was a major element of illegal immigrants among them who needed to be disenfranchised and if possible deported.
While the NRC report dealt with Assam, it was commonly believed that West Bengal was no different.
There was major acrimony when Mamata Banerjee held out the warning that her party would not tolerate the Bangladeshi Muslims being declared illegal en masse and that any attempt to disenfranchise them would be strongly resisted. Clearly, the motivation was political because the immigrants were overwhelming supporters of the Trinamool Congress government (earlier of the Congress when that party held sway in West Bengal), who depended on the government to protect their interests. Without their support, the Trinamool would not be a power to reckon with.
It now appears inconceivable that the NRC could give a comprehensive report on Bengal before the elections to the Lok Sabha and to the West Bengal assembly so the TMC is flexing its muscles while the BJP gnashes its teeth in frustration.
The manner in which ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government have gone about pre-judging the guilty party in the Dum Dum blast and the police has pitched in with them leaves one wondering how the authorities have jumped to that conclusion.
It was strange that the authorities cleaned up the blood-stained part of the road before the forensic experts arrived. Would that not compromise the work of the police in establishing a link between the bomb blast perpetrators and the workers of any political party that may have had a hand in engineering the blast?
It is such suspicious circumstances of destruction of evidence that lead to the demand for the CBI to step in and take over the investigation of cases.
It is incumbent on the authorities to ensure that in the run up to the elections cases of suspicious circumstances in fomenting communal trouble are not allowed to multiply. The police must show requisite integrity in the face of governmental pressures and the judiciary and the media must play their part diligently and impartially. The Election Commission must also gear up to face new challenges.
All in all, there are challenges galore for the Centre, the State government, the police, the poll body and for the people at large to unmask mischievous elements so that they can be tracked and punished.