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Fear Grips Locals as Police Try to Calm Unrest in Bengal’s Howrah; Cops Ask Suvendu to Not Visit Violence-Hit area

Tension prevailed in West Bengal’s Howrah as few locals were seen leaving the town that saw violent protests for two days over expelled BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s derogatory comments on Prophet Muhammad.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been clamped in several areas of Howrah including Uluberia, Panchla and Domjur till June 15 and internet services have been suspended in the entire district till June 13 to prevent the spread of misinformation.

In and around Panchla, few shops were burnt. Near the highway, a family was seen with luggage.

Bumba Satra, along with his wife and visually-challenged elder brother, was frantically waiting for the bus. “Our house is not safe, what if something happens at night? They have burnt one house. We don’t know who have burnt these houses. We are common man and don’t want to stay here now. My brother is not well,” he said.

Most of the locals did not want to speak to reporters.

Meanwhile, the Bengal government changed the Howrah Commissioner. Newly appointed commissioner Praveen Tripathi and a team of 10 IPS officers are now in charge of the security of the area.

At least 53 rioters in the Howrah commissionerate area have been arrested, police confirmed.

Another local, Samiran Roy, “We want peace that’s it. Nothing else.”

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari headed on a collision course with the West Bengal Police on Sunday with the law enforcers asking the BJP leader not to visit parts of violence-hit Howrah district where prohibitory orders have been clamped but the Nandigram MLA retorting that he would move the court if he is stopped. A letter, issued by the officer-in-charge of Kanthi Police Station at Adhikari’s hometown in Purba Medinipur district, stated that concern over his security was the main reason for asking him not to visit parts of Howrah district where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed.

“I will visit our party offices in Howrah district that were ransacked. Police has asked me not to visit areas where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed. But I will not violate prohibitory orders as I will go there alone. “If I am stopped by the police, I will move the court tomorrow (Monday). An LoP can’t be stopped from visiting a trouble-torn area,” Adhikari said before leaving his Kanthi residence for Howrah.

BJP state unit chief Sukanta Majumdar was arrested on Saturday afternoon when he was heading towards Howrah district. He was later released. “After putting BJP WB President Sukanta Majumdar under detention, Mamata Banerjee is now ensuring that LoP Suvendu Adhikari is not able to visit Howrah, where BJP offices have been gutted. Her entire focus is on the opposition, not on rampaging ‘Dudhel Gais’ (milch cows), as she calls them,” BJP’s West Bengal co-in charge Amit Malviya tweeted.

Reacting to the development, senior TMC leader Kunal Ghosh alleged that Adhikari wants to visit Howrah with the intention of fanning trouble. “What is the need for visiting areas where Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed? He is going to Howrah to create trouble. The BJP wants to destroy the peaceful atmosphere in the state,” he said.

Protests erupted in several parts of Howrah district on Friday over controversial remarks by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled leader Naveen Jindal on Prophet Mohammad. Agitators resorted to stone-pelting, setting police vehicles on fire and damaging public property during violent protests and clashes with the law enforcers in the district. Fresh violent protests were reported in Panchla on Saturday.

(With inputs from Debasish Chakraborty and PTI)

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