Murder of popular Muslim cleric sparks clashes in Bengal

By Zaidul Haque,,

Kolkata: Imam of Park Circus Mosque and renowned cleric, popular for his oratory skills, Maulana Ruhul Quddus (49) was gunned down allegedly by a gang of goons, sparking violent protest.

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Maulana Quddus was allegedly killed by the communal force of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and `Hindu Sanghati’ wings at Herobhanga-Naliakhali Bazar areas under the Gopalpukur Panchayet area of Canning Police Station of the district South 24 Parganas on 19th February, around 1am. By morning as the news of his murder spread in the surrounding areas of South & North 24 Parganas, angry mobs gathered and ransacked houses and shops, and more than 200 houses were set ablaze.

Peoples gathering around the dead body of Maulana Ruhul Quddus at Herobhanga area under the Canning police Station of South 24 Parganas of West Bengal.

For a long time, his supporters refused to hand over the dead body of Maulana to the police and kept protesting, blocking the road in different places. Police had to resort to a lathi-charge to bring the situation under control. Section 144 has been imposed in the locality. Police officials had also sent Intelligence report to the Chief Minister that the incident may turn into communal riot.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee immediately swung into action and appealed for calm. “I appeal to the people to keep the peace at any cost. I assure that, administration will take necessary actions against the culprits. Government will be start a special investigation on this murder case and find out the real facts whether any groups was behind it or not,” she urged.

Muslim leaders have alleged that from the past few years RSS-Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Sanghati workers have been continuously campaigning and spreading hatred against Muslims in the south and North 24 Parganas.

Four month ago, Mualana Rejaul Karim was shot dead in Hatuganj under the diamond Harbour police station of South 24 Parganas, where too local residents had pointed fingers at the VHP workers. Police, however, has so far not been able to trace the real culprit or the motive behind the murder. With the murder of another Muslim cleric in the same district, the region is on boil now.

What happened that night?

According to the TCN sources in the police and the district, after a religious conference (Jalsa) at Kachiamaria village of Kultali, near Jamtala Gopalganj, Maulana Quddus and another cleric Sirajul Islam Molla were coming back to his native village Dhoaghata, under Jibantala police station, 30 km from that area riding on a motorcycle. According to the statement of Molla, who was riding the bike, a group of four people forcibly stopped them showing arms and asked them to chant ‘Hindu Zindabad, Muslim Murdabad’. They then took the key of the motorcycle, their mobile phones and whatever money they had. Within minutes, one of them fired at Maulana Quddus, while Molla ran for his life.

A police team under Prabin Tripathi reached the placed at Herobhanga Bazar as angry mob were pelting stones at the police and even tried to set their vehicle on fire. Police then had to resort to force to disperse the crowd. Several people have been injured. However, after Mamata Banrejee’s assurance of investigations and appeal for calm, the situation now is under control.

Local Muslims have demanded that the WB CM should immediately visit the place; else they will not hand over the dead body of the Maulana for performing the last rites. State Minister Haider Aziz Shafwi, Jawed Ahmed Khan and many other Muslim leaders reached the spot and appealed for peace.

Hindu resistance party, `Hindu Sanghati’ leader Tapan Ghosh has, however, denied all cahrges. He told reporters, “In that area Muslims are always trying to hackle Hindu Community. Ruhul Quddus might have been an extremist and bearing lot of money on that night.”

TCN sources confirmed that few days ago RSS backed Hindu Sanghati called a meeting at Subodh Mallick Square in Kolkata where many supporters from Canning and adjoining areas had joined the meeting.

Maulana Ruhul Quddus was not only a Muslim cleric and a good orator, but he was also the Imam of a mosque at Darapara are in Park Circus, Kolkata. He was popular for his Bengali as well as Urdu speeches. In Khutba at Friday prayers he delivered his speech in Urdu, but in a gathering in the state he would speak in Bengali. He thus tried to build a bridge between Urdu and Bengali speaking people in the state, said Alam local youth of Dara Para Mosque.

His Namaz E Janaza was held on 20 February at 2.30 pm at Dhoaghata Village. More than 50000 people are supposed to have participated in his Janaza Namaz.

Jamiat Ulema-E-Hind State Secretary Maulana Siddiqullah Chowdhury, All Bengal Minority Youth federation State Secretary Md Kamruz Zaman, State President of All India Milli Council Qari Fazlur Rahman, Jamat e Islami Hind State President Md Nuruddin, Welfare Party’s State President Dr Raisuddin, SDPI state President Taidul Islam, CPIML Liberation leader Dr Partho Ghosh, Pirjada of Furfura Sharif Kashem Siddiqui, Human Rights organization APCR state Secretary Masiur Rahman, State Secretary of Madrasa Students Union Ahsanul Bari and many others Muslim personalities expressed their shock and appealed to the Government to stop the communal activities of the Hindutva forces and bringing to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

According to police sources, the atmosphere is still tense in the area, but they are closing monitoring the situations. Although section 144 is still imposed, they may withdraw it soon, said a district police official.

Local residents are scared that the incident may fuel communal tension if the ongoing anti-Muslims agitations by the Hindutva forces of the RSS- VHP are not controlled in the Canning area.