Kolkata: More than a dozen policemen were injured while about 30 vehicles were torched after a massive Muslim protest rally turned violent in West Bengal's Malda district on Sunday.
The crowd was protesting certain alleged derogatory comments on Prophet Mohammed made by Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari.
Protestors had blocked National Highway 34 and train services were disrupted for a couple of hours as the protesters ransacked the nearby Khaltipur station on the main railway line. Violence erupted when a bus was trying to negotiate past the crowd on National Highway 34. As the passengers got off the bus, the protesters burnt it down, The Indian Express reported.
"There was a rally of about 2.5 lakh people, which took an ugly turn. About 25 vehicles, including some police vans, were set on fire. Policemen were beaten up but there was no severe injury. I have heard of one person sustaining a bullet injury but there is no official confirmation of it,” Additional Superintendent of Police Dilip Hazra said.
Violence spread from a rally organised by the Anjuman Ahle Sunnatul Jamat (ASJ). However, an ASJ official later claimed that “outsiders” had masterminded the rampage.
A little later, another BSF vehicle coming from Malda was also set ablaze. The mob then turned towards the nearby Kaliachak Police Station. The protesters drove out the policemen and set a part of the police station on fire, including the barracks, eyewitnesses said.
Two persons, including an RSS activist from a nearby area who led a separate group of people to stop the protesters, are said to have been injured in the violence.
Although RSS leaders said 35-year-old Gopal Tiwari was injured in firing, police could not confirm it.
On 3 December, Tiwari called Prophet Mohammad the world's first homosexual. He is also reported to have allegedly circulated pamphlets against the Muslim community. He was arrested in Lucknow the same day.
On December 4, the Hindu Mahasabha stated that Tiwari was not a part of the outfit and that the controversy was an attempt by the BJP, the RSS and other groups to tarnish the image of the party.