Mamata Banerjee vows action against organisers of armed rallies on Rama Navami, says 'this will not be tolerated'

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday instructed the state administration to take "strong action" against those who took out rallies with arms on occasion of Rams Navami, defying the state's directive.

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Stating that rallying with arms is not a part of Bengal's culture, she said those who are resorting to such hooliganism are actually trying to politicising and defaming the religion.

"Did Lord Rama 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 Rama? I am instructing the DG (Director General of Police) and all the police superintendents to take strong action against such rallyists. No one should be spared.

"If anybody from the police force does any kind of understanding to overlook the issue, I will take action against them," Banerjee said during the district level administrative meet in South 24 Parganas.

"People got scared seeing some rallies 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 said.

Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said that the state administration permitted certain organisations that celebrate Rama 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 Rama 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 Rama.

One person was killed and five police personnel were injured during a clash between two groups over a Rama 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.

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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2018 17:32:28 IST

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