Adopting a tough stand against those who took out rallies with arms in West Bengal on the occasion of Ram Navami, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked the state administration to take "strong action" against all such people.
Mamata pointed out that rallying with arms is not a part of Bengal's culture and alleged that those who are resorting to such hooliganism are actually trying to politicising and defaming the religion.
"Did Lord Ram ask anybody to rally with arms and swords? Can we leave the state's administration and law and order in the hands of these hooligans, who are defaming Ram? I am instructing the DG (Director General of Police) and all the Police Superintendents to take strong action against such rallysts. No one should be spared,” Mamata said during the district level administrative meet in South 24 Parganas.
The West Bengal chief minister also promised action against those policemen who enter into any kind of understanding to overlook the issue.
"People got scared seeing some rallies yesterday (Sunday). This is not the culture of Bengal. I am giving out a clear message that this will not be tolerated. They are doing business in the name of religion and maligning the religion. This issue cannot be left out for future. It has to dealt with strongly," she thundered.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said that the state administration permitted certain organisations that celebrate Ram Navami for more than a decade to conduct processions with traditional weapons but those who resorted to hooliganism in the name of religious rallies, will be prosecuted under the Arms Act.
"I allowed the peaceful rallies. But one was given permission to rally with guns and swords in the name of Ram and enter the locality of other communities to harass or murder them.
"Some thugs got out on the streets wearing headbands and carrying swords and guns to foment trouble. This cannot happen in Bengal. Bengal has a distinctly different culture. We celebrate all kinds of festivals and rituals starting from Durga Puja to Ramadan and Christmas but always maintain peace and harmony," she claimed.
Defying the Bengal government's ban on carrying weapons in public, several armed rallies were taken out by the Sangh affiliates in various parts of the state including Birbhum, West Midnapore, Howrah and certain places in Kolkata, where men, women and even minors waved saffron flags and walked with sharp weapons like swords, knives and axes while chanting the name of Lord Ram.
One person was killed and five police personnel were injured during a clash between two groups over a Ram Navami procession in Purulia district as sword-wielding BJP supporters came out in thousands to celebrate.
A number of heavyweight state BJP leaders were also seen participating in the procession with weapons. State BJP President Dilip Ghosh rallied with a sword in West Midnapore while party's state women wing president Locket Chatterjee was seen carrying a trident. Party's national secretary Rahul Sinha was also seen brandishing a weapon at a rally.