Bengal Post Poll Violence: Is Everything Truly What Meets the Eye?
By: NH Desk
The barrage of fake videos seems to be aimed at addressing the constituents of the BJP from other states. To convince them that if the BJP is not elected, Hindus would be in trouble.
Is anyone surprised that within a day of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) much headlined defeat at the hands of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) has now been replaced by reports about the one-sided violence allegedly orchestrated by Trinamool members?
Just when the national media was fawning over her for single-handedly decimating the BJP and its Central agencies, social media posts condemning her for leading an army of thugs have gone viral. Even before Mamata took her oath of office, appeals to bring West Bengal under the president’s rule started making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Is Mamata Banerjee so politically inept that she would command her party members to wreak havoc and divert the public eye from her spectacular victory?
Or is there a fly in the soup?
If you think about it, similar incidents had taken place in Delhi in the days after the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory over the BJP in the 2020 Delhi assembly polls. The results were declared on February 11. In the two weeks that followed, social media platforms - especially Hindutva sympathiser groups - were flooded with incendiary anti-Muslim propaganda which eventually led to riots in the northeastern part of the city which led to at least 53 deaths.
Violence has indeed rocked districts in West Bengal after the declaration of the assembly poll results. However, allegations that the majority of perpetrators belong to the incumbent TMC has been trounced by local media reports. Rival newspapers Aajkal and Anandabazar agree that both the BJP and the TMC jumped into the battlefield resulting in a dozen deaths around the state including six saffron party workers, five Trinamool cadres and one supporter of the Indian Secular Front. Alongside this, there are reports of vandalism against the supporters of the CPI(M), SUCI and Forward Bloc.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders are trying to capitalise on the post-poll violence calling it, ‘communal’. Actor Kangana Ranaut had called on PM Narendra Modi to unleash his “real VIRAT ROOP” and repeat the violence of the 2002 Gujarat riots in West Bengal. Another BJP leader tweeted a video claiming that Hindu women have been raped by ‘Muslim goons’ near Nandigram. It was then shared by several Hindutva sympathetic pages.
Old videos of violence, some from other states, are also being circulated to agitate Hindus. For example, videos of assaults and lynchings in Odisha and Delhi are being circulated as being from Bengal. There are also reports of malefactors from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh being brought in by the BJP for violence doing the rounds. Fact-checkers Alt News and Boom Live are busting fake news on burnings, bombings and killings in the state.
Aren’t these reports a little too similar to what was happening in Delhi last year?
BJP chief JP Nadda called for a nationwide dharna to protest attacks on party members and supporters. He even visited the state to take stock of the situation. The party has also filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a CBI investigation into the violence.
Bengal BJP supremo Dilip Ghosh, who himself went on the record threatening to hurt TMC cadres, finds the current poll violence abnormal. “Even though political violence in Bengal is nothing new and after the results, there is a little bit of excitement everywhere. But not even 24 hours have passed since the results and six people have been killed. Thousands of houses have been burnt down or vandalised. We are getting reports from every assembly (segment),” he said to ABP Bangla.
Which begs the question, if even the local BJP chief finds the violence “normal”, then who is this misinformation campaign aimed at?
It is aimed at addressing the constituents of the BJP outside the state. To convince them that if the BJP is not elected, Hindus would be in trouble.
But for this vicious campaign to be defeated, the violence must stop. Mamata Banerjee has the biggest role here, but so do the vanquished Left parties and the Congress - if they are to make their way back to political relevance. The CPI(ML) has already started a peace campaign in Nandigram with an online fake news busting programme. We, journalists too, have our part to play, to speak truth to power and stand firmly against violence of all kinds.
Violence in any form must be rejected. West Bengal’s cultural invocation of nostalgia at every turn cannot be used to justify bloody vengeance. It is despicable.
This is not the time to analyse the state’s history of violence.
We must demand an end to this cycle.
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