While the Asansol administration was trying to restore peace, Babul Supriyo, the Union minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises and BJP MP from Asansol, tweeted graphic details about the clashes in Raniganj, which falls in his constituency.
The tweets identified a section of the victims by their religion and clearly indicated the purported community to which the alleged perpetrators belonged.
The Union minister also uploaded a video clip and a graphic photograph within a few hours of the violence being reported from Raniganj, West Burdwan.
Asansol mayor and Trinamul MLA Jitendra Kumar Tiwari appealed for peace and chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked police to take stern action. "A section of mischievous people are trying to foment trouble in Raniganj. I appeal to the people to stay calm and not to lend their ears to rumours," Tiwari said.
A stone hurled at a crowd triggered a scuffle in Raniganj that snowballed into bomb-throwing by both sides. A bomb almost severed the right hand of the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), Arindam Dutta Chowdhury, who is in hospital now.
Arson was reported from some other places in the town and the police station was ransacked.
In Kankinara, North 24-Parganas, one person was shot dead on Sunday night after two groups clashed over a procession. Earlier on Sunday, another person had died of head injury in Purulia after he fell while the police were chasing a group.
Against this sensitive backdrop, the tweets by the Union minister stood out. During and in the immediate aftermath of communal situations, it is a time-honoured convention not to name any community in order to ensure that the flames do not spread.
Under Section 153A in the Indian Penal Code, it is an offence to promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and race by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise.
Asked whether it was prudent to upload graphic visuals when normality was still being restored, Supriyo told The Telegraph: "It is not that I can't tell people the truth about what's happening in my constituency just because I'm a Union minister. I have also uploaded video footage and statements of common people in support of my comments. It is based on what I have seen and what I have learnt from common people. I'm scared of more violence in Bengal if the Mamata Banerjee government handles issues like this. The police were inactive."
In response to a question, advocate Anindya Sundar Das said in Calcutta: "When a minister takes the oath of office, he or she vows not to do anything that affects communal harmony.... A preliminary complaint can be lodged with the Lok Sabha Speaker. Anyone can lodge a complaint under Section 153A of the IPC after seeking a clearance from the Lok Sabha Speaker."
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