NIA to probe Ram Navami clashes in West Bengal, says Calcutta HC

A video screengrab of a violence in Bengal's Howrah following Ram Navami processions on April 1, 2023.

Kolkata: A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Thursday ruled that the National Investigation Agency of India will probe the clashes during the recent Ram Navami processions in certain pockets of Howrah and Hooghly districts of West Bengal.

On Ram Navami, various Hindu right-wing groups created a ruckus outside the mosques, as seen in videos viral on social media. At many places, the Hindutva men were seen playing songs outside the mosques and shouting slogans.

The division bench of Calcutta High Court’s acting Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya directed the state police to handover all case-related documents to the NIA within the next two weeks.

Following the clashes, the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari had approached the same division bench of the Calcutta High Court with a plea for a probe agency.

On April 10, the NIA authorities also informed the Calcutta High Court that they will have no problem in taking over the probe on this count if the court permits.

The division bench observed that it is beyond the ability of the state police to find those who were responsible for the clashes or who instigated it and hence a probe by a central agency was necessary.

Justice Sivagnanam also raised questions about the suspension of Internet services in the troubled belts after the clashes. “In such clashes the Internet services cannot be suspended. Such events keep the people tense,” he observed.

Earlier, the division bench questioned the efficiency of the intelligence wing of the state police regarding pelting of stones from the roofs of residences in the troubled belts. The bench questioned the failure of the intelligence in getting information about stones being accumulated on the rooftops.

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