Burdwan: People's Safety Should be Government's First Priority

Combat and Condemn attempts of Communal Forces To Instigate Violence

 

The people of West Bengal are in an uproar about a blast in Khagragarh locality of Burdwan on the 2nd of October. Allegations of involvement of the ruling party, accusations that the state police are trying to cover up the links, and contention between central and state investigating agencies over jurisdiction in the probe has generated endless debate.

 

The Burdwan Blasts : A timeline

 

2nd October : An explosion in Khagragarh locality in Burdwan killed two men. Among them one was identified as Shakil Ahmed. The other man was later identified as one Shobhan Mondal. Two others were injured, including a man named Abdul Hasan. The police said that the blasts could be accidental but the nature of explosive suggested terrorist link.

 

5th October : Two women Rejara Biwi and Amina Biwi, wives of Ahmed and Hasan were detained in connection with the blast.

 

Several improvised explosive devices or IEDs, detonators and SIM cards were recovered from the blast site. Printed material that mentioned Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri, Chechen rebels and even the Indian Mujahideen was also recovered from the site.This prompted an investigation by the National Investigation Agency, the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

 

Allegations are raised that the building where the blast took place, which had served as a hideout for the suspects belonged to a former government employee with close links to the ruling party. The same building has also been used for the Trinamool Congress election campaign office. Moreover the state police have been accused off suppressing facts and evidence from the NIA to shield the ruling party's involvement. A delay of 24 hours was allegedly made before informing the NIA.

 

6th October: Rejara and Amina reveal that they were using a burqa tailoring outfit as a front for the operation.

Opposition party's demand to see the NIA taking over the investigation from the state police.

 

12th October : The National Investigating Agency moves court for custody of the detainees and transfer of the case to a Kolkata court. A first information report is filed under relevant laws including the UAPA. The NIA also visits the CID headquarters for all evidence seizes till now and the concerned PS in Burdwan.

 

15th October : A Madrasah at Simulia comes investigation after the two detainees profess links to it. Air gun pellets, sharp weapons and Jihadi literature were reportedly found at the school along with a car with a fake number plate and army stickers on the windows. The thirty or more girls living there and their teachers are all outsiders to the local community. The NIA is guessing that this might have been used as a hub by a militant organisation.

 

The NIA uncovered 30 grenades in the toilet of a house on Burdwan's Badshahi Road less than a kilometer away from the site of the October 2 blast. The state police claim to have combed and sealed the place 8 days ago. The six inhabitants, professedly masons, had already deserted the house. Among them a certain Rizaul is suspected to have strong militant links.

 

 

17th October : 37 of 39 IEDs ( Improvised Explosive Devices) seized by the central agencies from the house were detonated and two were diffused and sent for forensic analysis.

 

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee waived aside all questions regarding how and to whose benefit the state police overlooked the grenades affirming full confidence in the police force. Instead she blamed the central government for not bring able to control infiltration at the border which she identified as the root evil.

 

Media reports claim that sources from within the NIA say that the West Bengal police's handling of the initial investigation into the October 2 blast in Burdwan might have allowed at least three dozen people possibly connected with the explosion that killed two people, to escape to Bangladesh. The sources further said the local police had failed to make much headway in the case even after the arrest of three prime suspects in the case. This despite the fact that the Bengal police had also recovered a pen drive from a house in the area, that had a recording of an instructor explaining in Urdu and Bangla how to make bombs, improvised explosive devices and hand grenades. The pendrive was finally handed over to the NIA after it took over the investigation.

 

 

 

There have already been several attempts to add a communal colour to this entire episode. All such attempts need to be condemned and vehemently resisted. It cannot be overemphasised that terrorism and communal politics go hand in hand and to defeat one we must defeat the other. A call for communal harmony must resonate loud and clear and all propagaters of divisive and communal agendas must be squarely combatted. As students moreover we strongly condemn the viscious propaganda against Madrasas using the Simulia raid. Madrasa education in this state serves a very important role in society and must be protected from harmful and negative propaganda.

 

The people of the state also demand that the government, both state and central, duly discharge their duty of ensuring the safety and protection of the public. Instead of competition over jurisdiction people want to see the state police and central agencies collaborate optimally to ensure that the investigation proceeds as swiftly and thoroughly as possible leaving no stone unturned in tracking down and disarming terrorist activity.