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Attack on Kaliachak Police Station was not Pre-planned, Says Fact Finding Report


A fact-finding team that visited West Bengal to investigate the attack on Kaliachak police station on January 3 has said the attack was not planned by the organizers of the rally, and criminals seem to have taken advantage of the situation. Quoting a number of eye-witnesses, the fact-finding team has arrived at this conclusion and said that it was media reports that alleged it to be a communal attack by the Muslims. ""The involvement of certain political parties and Hindu nationalists in spreading rumours and giving the incident communal hue at the crucial time before the West Bengal Assembly elections needed investigation,"" the report of the fact-finding team of CSSS said. The team comprised Irfan Engineer, Director of the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism that organized the probe; Subhapratim Roychowdhury, AAMRA; Nasim Akhtar Choudhury, ActionAid and Anupam Adhikary, Criminals seemed to have taken advantage of the rally, and behind the cover of the rally carried out their attack on the police station. Their target was not any member of the Hindu community but the police station and criminal records therein. Their target was also the RAF personnel quarters. They seem to have reacted to the crackdown on their illegal activities, the report says.

Highly critical of the role of the media on the whole, with exceptions of course, the report says media coverage of the attack on Kaliachak Police Station by criminals who happened to be Muslims, was given communal overtones and portrayed as if the incident was a national disaster under the influence of Hindu nationalists and their propaganda. ""Worst and more violent attacks on state properties and on police occur in which non-Muslims are involved and they do not receive national coverage on the scale that the Kaliachak incident received. On account of the scale of media coverage, even the secular minded prominent citizens and civic and political organizations from all over the country felt obliged to condemn the attack as if it was communally motivated and of national significance,"" the report says. Pointing out that competition between two organizations – Ahle Sunnatul Jamaat and Idara-e-Sharia – to hegemonize and control the Muslim community seems to be the motive behind the organization of the rally which ultimately led to attack on the police station. ""Such competitive mobilization and any reaction to any provocation should be avoided to defeat the communal politics. The more these organizations react to provocation, the more elements from Hindu nationalists are encouraged to provoke the community by publicizing derogatory remarks against the holy Prophet. Such provocations must be fought legally rather than on streets. At times Muslim community organizations pick up issues more out of political objectives rather than love and reverence for the holy Prophet,"" the report has said.

Noting with pain the criminal-police nexus and the normalcy and the way in which the serious crimes are taken with a casual attitude, the report says that the state has done pretty little to ameliorate the dwindling livelihoods of the people due the riverine draining of alluvial soil from the Gangetic planes. The unemployed are used by the criminals as labourers in their “industry”. The Hindu eyewitness told us that as a result of growing poppy cultivation, the vegetables have become costly as the area under food crop is going down. ""Pro-active measure to promote peace and strengthen relations between different communities would have to be undertaken. The initiative from the political parties – even TMC and CPI (M) was lacking to say the least. The secular Hindu leaders of TMC and CPI (M) could also have taken peace initiative but the efforts were lacking. Hindu nationalists are trying their level best to misuse the violent attack on Kaliachak police station to create fear among Hindus about Muslims by demonizing them as violent-criminals-terrorists-anti-nationals-prowling upon Hindu women,"" the report recommends.

Suggesting that political parties were trying to communally polarize the situation for political objectives, the report says that this needs to be countered in the long run. Legal action needs to be taken against them for the offence of promoting enmity, ill-will and hatred between Hindus and Muslims and openly publishing and distributing such leaflets. Such attempts also need to be countered politically by dispelling such propaganda by secular political forces and exposing the political designs of the Hindu nationalists, it says."

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