26 January, 2021

Organised Hate Campaign Rears Its Head As Communal Clashes Leave Bengal On Knife's Edge

Anti-Muslim sentiment related to the COVID-19 outbreak was at root of the recent communal flare-ups in Hooghly and Malda

A tangle of bicycles bore witness to the communal clash in Telinipara in Bengal
Organised Hate Campaign Rears Its Head As Communal Clashes Leave Bengal On Knife's Edge

Communal tension reared its ugly head in West Bengal yet again—the backdrop being anxiety and temper brought on a knife’s edge by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, significantly, the flare-ups at Telinipara in Hooghly district and Harishchandrapur in Malda didn’t materialise out of existing tension—an organised hate campaign allegedly fomented the trouble. Ever since the Tablighi Jamaat meet in Delhi emerged as a hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak, a narrative was created to link COVID-19 with all Muslims. One politician in UP called for a boycott of Muslim vegetable vendors; still more accused Muslims of spreading it deliberately. The canards were especially vicious on social media. All this had a direct bearing on the recent communal cases in Bengal.

At Telinipara, a local, Sheikh Anwar, tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to rumours that Muslims were spreading the pathogen. To maintain social distancing, the police relocated a market from the congested locality to an open place, but Hindus barricaded the road to the market in a way that would...



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