After Owaisi, Mamata Fumes Over Jharkhand Disom Party’s ‘Efforts’ to Boost Tribal Support for BJP in Bengal.

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Kolkata: A day after slamming Asaduddin Owaisi’s party for dividing the Muslim votes in Bengal, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has now hit out at North Malda administration for failing to control a series of protests taken out by the Jharkhand’s Disom Party (JDP).

During a recent administrative meeting, a visibly angry Mamata came down heavily on the Malda Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria for failing to control the rallies by the BJP backed Jharkhand’s Disom Party in Malda North.

“You have to be rough and tough now. How come Jharkhand’s Disom Party from Jharkhand is creating a law and order problem in Bengal. I don’t want to hear it again. Please do your job…. a police’s job is to maintain good governance and if they are unable to do this then they can leave and concentrate on theatre and singing,” Mamata said.

But, Mamata’s frustration aren’t with a cause. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, TMC had failed to open its account in Malda North and Malda South as the tribal votes had effectively coalesced towards the BJP. Adding to this, the challenge that Owaisi’s AIMIM will pose as it is attempting to win the significant Muslim vote.

In Malda North, BJP’s Khagen Murmu defeated sitting MP Mausam Noor, a former Congress MP who had fought on a TMC ticket, while in Malda South Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury of the Congress won the seat by defeating BJP’s Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury. TMC’s Md Moazzem Hossain stood third with 27.47% vote share.

Malda North shared a border with Jharkhand which played to Khagen Murmu’s advantage as he managed to consolidate the tribal vote with Jharkhand Disom Party’s support.

The last few months have seen a series of protests by Jharkhand’s Disom Party in North Malda over various demands, which TMC claims is a mere political strategy.

“If they have any demands, they should protest in Jharkhand. What does the West Bengal government have to do with their protest? They have a BJP government in Jharkhand but they are raising their demands in Bengal,” a TMC MLA in North Malda said.

The Jharkhand Disom Party is very active in North Malda’s Habibpur (among the assembly constituencies in the Adina area). In these two areas, the tribal vote share is nearly 80 per cent (the tribal vote share in North Malda is close to nearly 11.5 per cent), which helped BJP’s Khagen Murmu defeat a strong leader like Mausam Noor.

Jharkhand Disom Party, which mainly works for the rights of the tribals, not only helped Murmu win the Lok Sabha seat but also helped him to increase his vote share by 37.61 per cent (+22.52 per cent).

“In the Jangalamahal area too the BJP managed to strong inroads. She (Mamata) is basically worried that the tribal votes are shifting towards the BJP. Her aggression against the Jharkhand Disom Party during the administrative meeting was logical because they had failed to open an account in Malda,” political expert Mohit Ray said.

Jharkhand Disom Party was founded in 2002 by MP Salkhan Murmu. In August 2014, Salkhan Murmu merged his Jharkhand Disom Party with the BJP in the presence of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda.

Farmers from Bengal reap Jharkhand Durga Puja harvest


Deepak Jana belongs to a family of farmers in Contai of Bengal’s East Midnapore district but he is more interested in working as a pandal decorator because it pays the 30-year-old more than what he earns from farming and also gives him the pleasure of being an ace craftsman.

Most artisans from East and West Midnapore earn Rs 300 to Rs 400 per eight hours of work in giving shape to Durga Puja pandals in Jamshedpur and other parts of Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar. More than 2,000 workers from the two Bengal districts come to the steel city during the festive season.

According to members of Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti, there are about 50 big-budget Puja committees known for spending huge amounts on pandal decoration. In the steel city, almost all high-budget, well-known pandals are made by Midnapore-based tent houses and decorators; most of them are farmers who swap their profession in search of creative satisfaction and some quick money in the festive season. Competition among the committees has led for demand for the best decorators from the twin districts, considered hubs of decorators in general and pandal makers in particular.

“Most of the workers who come work under contractors are farmers,” said Deepak, who has done the pandal for Central Sarbajanin Durga Puja in Sonari as a part of Basanti Decorators from Contai. “My family grows vegetables and pulses in Contai but I travel for pandal making because it is good money and also I love the creative part. Once the deal is finalised between the puja committee and the decorator, they hire us for the work. I went to Odisha last year. I think what committees like is the skill that we possess but that comes with practice.”

Sabyasachi Jana, the concept designer of Parbati Decorators from Mecheda, East Midnapore, is the lead designer of the Durga Puja of the Jairam Youth Sporting Club in Adityapur that has this year showcased how manmade pollution is the cause of humankind’s own devastation. The Telegraph had reported on Friday how the pandal has attracted eyeballs and criticism in equal measure because it is made up of a million plastic bags.

“We have over 1,200 tent houses in East Midnapore only who are always busy in work across the eastern part of the country,” Sabyasachi said. “Most of the workers are farmers but due to low income, a huge number of people have turned to this profession which makes you skilled and gives you easy money in a couple of months.”

Most pandal decorators have teams that include masons, carpenters, electricians and painters to take care of various facets of pandal making such as building the structure, covering it with cloth, artwork, painting, and lighting. Most pandal makers are self-taught or learn the skills by working as apprentices for others.

But why not Jharkhand-based decorators?

“There are a couple of reasons,” said Arun Singh, secretary of Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti. “First, you don’t find craftsmen of that calibre in Jharkhand. Second, we have found a lack of professionalism here and thus committees have to depend on an alternative way which is better even if it is some times expensive. This is not just the case of decorators but also with dhakis who come from Bengal.”

There is some work that does go to local decorators. For instance, the Utkal Durga Puja Committee in Kadma, which has India’s Moon mission as its theme, divided the work between a local decorator and one from Contai.

“The primary ply work was done by 20 craftsmen from Contai because they are the ones who can do it best,” said Siphon Mohanty, vice president of Utkal Durga Puja Committee, Kadma. “They are skilled and are known for their work. It is not only Jamshedpur but these decorators from Midnapore cater to the entire Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha too. Some even go to Calcutta because of their work.”

Two suspected JMB operatives arrested from Bengal’s Malda district


The Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police on Tuesday morning arrested two suspected operatives of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) Bangladesh from an area near Shamsi police station of Bengal’s Malda district. The two nabbed were identified as Abdul Bari (28) and Nijamuddin Khan (28).

According to the police, Bari and Khan were looking after the recruitment and training of the newly recruited JMB members under the instructions of Salahuddin Salahein and Ejaz Ahmed, two top leaders of the outfit.

Officers described Bari and Khan as “two main organisers of the newly detected JMB’s Uttar Dinajpur module”. Both are residents of Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

Just one day ago, STF authorities said they arrested a suspected JMB member Abul Kashem alias Kashem, who hailed from Durmut village under Mangalkot police station in Burdwan district. He was arrested from the Canal East Road in Kolkata.

STF officers said information about Abdul Bari and Nijamuddin Khan were given out by Kashem.

Bari and Khan were booked under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the govt of India), 122 (collecting arms etc with intention of waging war against the govt of India), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war), 124A( sedition), 125 (waging war against the govt of any Asiatic power in alliance with the govt of India).

A week ago the STF arrested Ejaz Ahmed, a top JMB operative, from Gaya in Bihar in connection with the Bodh Gaya explosion during the visit of the Dalai Lama. Salahein, a Bangladeshi national, who is presently leading JMB’s pro-Al Qaeda faction, is believed to be based in India since 2014.

Bari and Khan went into hiding after the arrest of Ejaz Ahmed, said STF.

After questioning the arrested JMB operatives, the STF officers have come to know that senior operatives of the JMB were planning to meet in Kolkata shortly to finalise their strategy before escaping to somewhere in South India.

“We have seized some incriminating articles and mobile phones from the possession of Bari and Khan,” said a statement.

Only last week, 19 of the 31 people arrested in connection with the Khagragarh blast were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from six years to 10 years after they pleaded guilty in a special National Investigation Agency court in Kolkata. They were all linked with the JMB.

A Bengal bomber and his southern sojourn: How NIA prevented an imminent terror attack


New Delhi, July 10: Five fabricated hand grenades, one timer device, three electric circuits, suspected explosive substance, different components for making IEDs/rockets were recovered by the National Investigation Agency, following a confession of a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Bangladesh operative, who was arrested in Bengaluru recently.

The recovery comes following the confession of the JMB operative, Habibur Rehman, who is also an accused in Burdwan blast case. The NIA said that these weapons were to be used in various terror acts in different parts of the state.

Rehman was arrested on June 25 in Bengaluru. He had been chargesheeted in the Burdwan blast case. Initially, he was shown as an absconder in the chargesheet.

NIA officials say that they are taking Rehman to various places in South India as they believe that the had travelled to several places with an intention of setting up modules and carrying out terror attack.

In this backdrop, one must re-visit the investigations into the January 2018 Bodhgaya blast. This attack was masterminded by a Bangladeshi terrorist against whom a death warrant was issued.

Secondly, the probe suggests that the incident at Bodhgaya was to rake up the Rohingya cause in India. Thirdly, the probe shows how terrorists from both Bengal and Bangladesh have made south India their playground.

The National Investigation arrested Mohammad Zahidul Islam alias Munna from a hideout near Bengaluru. NIA officials tell OneIndia that his arrest was carried out as investigations showed that he was the mastermind of the Bodhgaya incident.

The NIA got information about Islam following the arrest of Abdul Karim, a resident of Murshidabad and Mustafizur Rehman a resident of Birbhum, West Bengal. The duo were arrested from Mallapuram, when they hiding in a camp meant for Bengali speaking people.

The probe revealed that Islam was familiar with the Mallapuram camp and visited it several times. It was in fact he who made arrangements for the other accused persons to stay in this camp.

The arrest of Islam is a major breakthrough. He is an expert in bomb blasts and officials suspect that he had even trained the other accused in making the IEDs. In fact in Bangladesh, he was involved in several serial blast cases and also the attack on a police van in Trishal. He escaped from Bangladesh in 2014 and entered India through West Bengal, where he stayed for a while before re-grouping his JMB module.

In Bengal, he decided that he should carry out a series of attacks both in India as well as Bangladesh. He was part of the Burdwan module, which was in the process of preparing 500 bombs.

In Bengal, he set up several modules in Burdwan, Nadia and Murshidabad. These were very active modules. Over the past year, he decided to spread his operations down south.

Officials say that his intentions of coming down to south along with his module members was not just restricted to find a safe hiding spot. They were in the process of setting up modules and the JMB already has dedicated sleeper cells in Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala.

The issue he was planning to rake up was the cause of the Rohingyas, who are in good numbers in Hyderabad. The JMB has been in touch with several Rohingyas spread across the various camps in India. Their main target was however the ones in Southern India, an Intelligence Bureau official says.

After his entry into India, his activities went completely unchecked for nearly 4 years. This time was used by Islam to go about the country setting up or re-activating his modules.

When he was arrested in Bengaluru, the NIA recovered from him electronic devices and explosives, which is a clear indicator that he was planning a big attack down south. He had even asked his accomplices in Mallapura to lie low and await instructions, officials also say.

Why do terrorists from Bengal find a safe haven in Bengaluru and Kerala


New Delhi, June 26: In less than one year, the National Investigation Agency has picked up a terrorist of Bengal origin from Bengaluru, Karnataka.

On Tuesday, an absconding accused in the Burdwan blast case was arrested by the NIA from Doddaballapur near Bengaluru. In August 2018 the NIA had arrested one Mohammad Jahidul Islam alias Kausar from Ramnagara near Bengaluru in connection with the Bodhgaya blasts case.

Both of them belong to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Bangladesh or JMB, a group which is extremely active and also has its roots in West Bengal. It may also be recalled that in January 19 2018, two more persons Abdul Karim and Mustafizur Rehman were arrested from the labour camp of Bengali speaking persons in Mallapuram in Kerala. Both were also of Bengal origin and were wanted in connection with the Bodhgaya case.

When Islam was arrested, the NIA found some electronic devices besides traces of explosives. He is a top leader of JMB in India and is wanted in Burdwan blast case and in many other cases in Bangladesh also. He is the master mind of the Bodhgaya case, the NIA had said.

Tuesday’s arrest from Karnataka is connection with the Burdwan case. The case pertains to a major bomb factory in Burdwan which was busted following an accidental blast. The NIA learnt during the investigation that terrorists of the JMB were preparing bombs in large numbers and had planned on smuggling them into Bangladesh and carry out a series of blasts. The NIA has been probing the case since late 2014 and there are still many absconding accused yet to be arrested.
The accused, Habibur Rehman was arrested from Bengaluru by the NIA.

Rehman was charged in this case for his direct involvement in the conspiracy of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to wage war against Government of India and Bangladesh.

Rehman was a close associate of senior JMB leader Jahidul Islam alias Kausar. He was also associated with other JMB leaders like Rahamatullah and Moulana Yusuf. He was an active member of JMB, Bolpur Module in West Bengal. He had attended a number of training camps conducted by JMB.

Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that this is not for the first time that terrorists have come down South to hide. There have been several such instances reported in Kerala and Hyderabad as well. They tend to mix with the migrant population including the Rohingyas and continue to stay on in states such as Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka.

In Mallapuram, the members of the JMB were staying at a camp for a long time which was set up for Bengali speaking people. Even in Karnataka, their activities go unchecked as they tend to mingle with those who have migrated in search of work. There is also a concern with regard to the Rohingyas who have moved to various parts of the country in large numbers, including Karnataka. These terrorists often use such persons as a shield and use such states as a safe haven.

The Bengal-Bengaluru connection is not restricted to terror alone. There has been a dedicated route between these two states which has been busted by the NIA which probing a case relating to fake currency.

The NIA’s Hyderabad wing had in March 2018 arrested Saddam Hussain, a resident of Bengaluru who was found in possession of fake currency to the tune of Rs 26,000.

The NIA team also recovered two demonetised currency notes of the value Rs 1,000. The accused was allegedly circulating fake currency in various parts of his country after obtaining it from his contacts in Mada, West Bengal.

During investigation it was revealed that accused Saddam had travelled to Malda from Bangaluru on the instructions of Amirul Hoque and collected High Quality FICN from Roustam on four occasions.

Junior doctors in Jharkhand protest against Bengal impasse, OPD boycott hits patients


Patients in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad had a harrowing time on Friday after junior doctors in the three government-run medical colleges and hospitals boycotted OPD services in a show of solidarity with the protesting doctors in West Bengal. Junior doctors across West Bengal are on strike since June 10, protesting against an alleged assault on a medical intern by relatives of an 87-year-old patient who died in Kolkata’s NRS hospital premises.

Junior doctors boycotted OPD duties at Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS), Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital (MGMMCH) and Patliputra Medical College Hospital (PMCH) and demanded that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee take action against the culprits immediately. However, senior doctors across the state attended to patients, wearing black badges.

The massive impact of junior doctors’ boycotting their duties was felt at RIMS Ranchi where long queues of patients were seen at all OPDs. Patients particularly had a difficult time at medicine, surgery, skin, eye and orthopaedic OPDs. Some of the patients were seen returning from OPDs due to the seemingly unending queues.

Govind Mahato, a patient from Powarganj in Lohardaga town, about 70 kms from Ranchi, visited RIMS but returned due to the commotion in the hospital. “I had no information about the sudden strike of doctors. I came here for the medical examination of my ailing grandson but had to return without treatment,” said Mahato.

Malti Murmu (45), a resident of Namkum in Ranchi, failed to consult a doctor despite waiting till noon at the gynaecology OPD. “The hospital should not have registered my name in the morning if the doctors were on strike. After being registered, I thought the doctor would check patients in the OPD, but they wasted my time and money,” she said.

Before beginning their boycott, junior doctors at RIMS staged a street play on the role of doctors in providing health services in the campus and sought cooperation from all teachers for their OPD boycott. Junior doctors also wore helmets and staged a sit-in protest in front of RIMS director Dr DK Singh’s chamber.

“We strongly condemn the attitude of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. We would be compelled to intensify our agitation if all the culprits are not arrested soon,” said Dr Ajit Prasad, JDA president.

Junior doctors at the Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Science (RINPAS) in Kanke also boycotted OPD services in solidarity with the JDA.

OPD did not function after 10.30 am at PMCH Dhanbad due to the boycott call by junior doctors. At MGMMCH, OPD did not function after 11 am. IMA Jamshedpur secretary Dr Mritunjay Kumar Singh said many doctors in private nursing homes also skipped their OPD duties in solidarity with protesting junior doctors.

Patients at Bokaro General Hospital (BGH) had also returned unattended from OPD as junior doctors boycotted services.

In the evening, the Jharkhand chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Jharkhand Health Service Association (JHSA) and JDA took out a protest march from RIMS.

“It is unfortunate that doctors who serve patients day and night were thrashed and the government did not act properly against culprits”, said Dr Pradeep Kumar Singh, IMA secretary.

The Daily Fix: To halt Bengal’s spiral of violence, both Trinamool and BJP must dial down tensions


Political tempers are running so high in West Bengal, it does not take much to spark lethal violence. On Saturday, for instance, an argument about party flags exploded into clashes that resulted in the deaths of three people. The quarrel broke out as Trinamool Congress members tried to remove Bharatiya Janata Party banners in Sandeshkhali, around 75 kilometers from Kolkata on the Bangladesh border. It quickly escalated into a gunfight, reported the Telegraph.

Over the past fortnight, 13 people – eight from the BJP and five Trinamool – have been killed, the Economic Times reported. While West Bengalhas a long history of political violence, this ferocity, after the Lok Sabha election has ended, is unusual even by the state’s own standards.

Social cleavages give this political violence the potential to grow into something even more dangerous. For example, much of this post-election violence has been concentrated in North 24 Parganas, the district bordering Bangladesh. The area has communal fault lines that resulted in Hindu-Muslim riots in 2017 and 2010. Ethnic divisions have also come into play, with a senior Trinamool ministerblaming migrants from Bihar and Jharkhand for displacing Bengalis from their homes.

Much of the blame for this violence will have to be shouldered by the Trinamool Congress, given its status as the state’s ruling party and hence responsible for law and order. Mamata Banerjee’s government has actively encouraged the politicisation of the state administration, so it is not a surprise that the police are either unwilling or unable to stop the violence between BJP and Trinamool workers.

However, in Bengal’s highly politicised environment, the strong opposition BJP bears some responsibility too. The party, which had a 40% vote share in the recent elections, wields considerable power on the ground. In some cases, the BJP has indulged in brinkmanship and fanned violence.

On Sunday, for instance, the BJP insisted that it would bring the bodies of its two workers killed in Sandeshkhali to be cremated in Kolkata, three hours away. This was an obvious attempt to mine political capital from the violence. When they were stopped the police, BJP officials threatened to cremate the bodies on the highway. They backed down only after a long standoff.

Political circles in West Bengal are pointing out that the situation is reminiscent of the time the Trinamool challenged the Communists in the early 2000s and how, half a century earlier, the Communists had challenged the Congress. But this tumultuous past does not absolve either party of the responsibility for the present violence. If they really believe that the interests of West Bengal are greater than their own political ambitions, the Trinamool and the BJP will dial down the tension and end the state’s spiral into violence.

Politics Hots Up After Passengers of Patna-bound Bus Beaten Up in Bengal for Refusing Meal at Eatery


Patna: Passengers of a bus coming to Patna from West Bengal were allegedly beaten up in Burdwan district of the adjoining state where a mob attacked them for refusing to halt their journey to have meal at a roadside eatery, police said on Sunday.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi targeted the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal over the incident and questioned the “silence” of opposition political leaders friendly to her like jailed RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.

The driver, helper and passengers of the bus which brought them here from Kolkata have lodged an FIR alleging that they were stopped by the owner and employees of the eatery and assaulted, Jakkanpur police station SHO Raghunath Prasad said.

“They complained that the attackers, who were drunk, demanded that all the passengers get down, have dinner at the eatery and leave after paying up. When they protested saying they did not want to halt their journey, the mob began assaulting them saying that they are Biharis and they must not expect to have their way in West Bengal,” the SHO said.

They also claimed that that they did not get any help from the local police and hence they were lodging their FIR after reaching Patna, he said adding that investigations were on.

Meanwhile, Sushil Kumar Modi slammed “Didi’s supporters” for keeping mum on the incident. “Didi’s supporters like Lalu Prasad are maintaining silence over the episode. They had invited her to Patna for a dharna against demonetisation and shared the stage with her at a rally in Kolkata recently. They should disclose why they are not talking to her over the attacks on Biharis in West Bengal,” Modi added.

“First Mamata Banerjee attacked the federal structure as envisioned in the Constitution when she prevented a central agency like CBI from functioning, Modi tweeted.

He was referring to the Trinamool Congress chief’s dharna earlier this year when a CBI team had gone to question the city police commissioner in the Saradha chit fund scam.

“Ever since she received a jolt in the recent Lok Sabha polls, there has been a spurt in attacks on Biharis in her state,” claimed Modi who had recently flayed Banerjee for rebuking a group of BJP supporters chanting “Jai Shri Ram” by calling them “outsiders”.

In the general elections, the BJP’s tally soared from only two five years ago to 18, only four less than 22, the number of seats won by the TMC.

A profile of Bihar

Bihar’s antiquity is evident from its name, which is derived from the ancient word “VIHARA” (monastery). It is indeed a land of monasteries. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where India’s first major empires rose and fell. Where the ruins of the worlds’ earliest university slumbers in the void of time. The passage of Ganga, flowing wide and deep enrich the plains of Bihar before distributing in Bengal’s deltoid zone.

Among all Indian states, Bihar is the one most intimately linked to the Buddha’s life, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist circuit. The Buddhist trail begins at the capital city, Patna, where a noteworthy museum contains a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures as well as a terracotta urn said to contain the ashes of Lord Buddha.

The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library has rare Muslim manuscripts including some from the University of Cordoba in Spain. 40 km away, Vaishali, was the site for the second Buddhist Council is the presence of ruins testify. 90 km south of Patna is Nalanda which translates as the place that confers the lotus’ (of spiritual knowledge). A monastic university   flourished here from the 5th to the 11th century. It is said to have contained nine million books, with 2,000 teachers to impart knowledge to 10,000 students who came from all over the Buddhist world. Lord Buddha himself taught here and Hieun Tsang, the 7th century Chinese traveler, was a student. Ongoing excavations have uncovered temples, monasteries and lecture halls. Rajgir, ‘the royal palace’, 12 km south, was the venue for the first Buddhist Council.

The Buddha spent five years at Rajgir after having attained enlightenment, and many of the remains at Rajgir commemorate various incidents related to life of Buddha, the hill of Gridhrakuta being perhaps the most important, as this is where the Buddha delivered most of his sermons. Bodhgaya is the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, with the Mahabodhi Temple marking the precise location. This landlocked state of Bihar is surrounded by Nepal, Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and comprises four cultural regions-Bhojpur, Mithila and Magadha and Chotanagpur. Rivers Kosi and Gandak from the north and Sone from the south join the Ganga. In the fertile plains, rice, sugarcane, oilseeds, gram, maize, jute, barley and wheat are cultivated.