Speaking at an administrative review meeting in Durgapur town, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced that the state will reward anyone who helps foil communal violence with a government job, while alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its partner organisations were paying miscreants to incite unrest in the state.
She claimed the state had definite proof of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) involvement in communal clashes in the state. Young people are being given money and asked to defile places of worship, she alleged, adding that several RSS supporters have been arrested in connection with such an incident in North 24 Parganas district.
Banerjee asked to step up mass vigilantism to counter attempts to incite communal unrest, while advising the police to reward those who help the administration with definite information. Depending on the sensitivity of the information passed on to the police, a person will be rewarded either with a job or a substantial cash prize, she said on Monday.
Anyone found guilty of conspiring to disrupt peace will be dealt with the full force of law, regardless of faith and political affiliation, she added. She asked the state police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha to make arrangements to step up surveillance in partnership with the public.
Top police officers said vigilantism could help, but, at the same time, it could also be counter-productive. Vigilantes are, as a rule, a double-edged sword, they said, asking not to be identified.
Dilip Ghosh, the state president of the BJP, denied Banerjee’s allegations saying that his party wasn’t behind any communal unrest anywhere in India. Most of the country is now ruled by the BJP and there is no unrest anywhere, he said, while alleging that West Bengal was harbouring extremist leaders for political gains of the ruling party.
If the forthcoming panchayat elections are not rigged, the Trinamool Congress will not be able to hold on to its bastion, Ghosh claimed.
Meanwhile, Banerjee has started to reach out to political parties with the proposal of forming an alliance to oppose the BJP. She has already spoken on phone with K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the chief minister of Telangana, to discuss a possible alliance. Without naming Tripura, she said the people of West Bengal will not bow to external disruptive forces.