How a Kolkata’s missing girl issue is being compared with Kathua case to create communal unrest in Bengal

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Kolkata: As civil societies took on to the streets across India demanding Justice for the 8-year-old child, who had been gang-raped and murdered in Kathua, Jammu social media in Bengal went berserk drawing parallels between Kathua gang rape victim and the minor girl, who has been missing from her home for the past 10 months in Kolkata. Most of the posts being circulated in various Facebook groups have been scathingly criticizing the Kolkata Police and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for not doing enough to save the missing girl as the accused belong to her alleged vote bank community.

Several concocted stories being circulated that the police were dreading to enter the minority dominated area, which is almost like a fortress. Adding fuel to these theories were claims being made by certain publications. “I saw this news about two months ago on social media. I was disturbed. But soon I saw it being circulated and replicated by websites and portal that at aim spreading fake or half-baked news and creating communal disharmony,” says Anwesha Dutta, a content writer.

A section of vernacular media covering the news made the police sit up and take notice. On April 17, Joint CP Crime, Kolkata in an attempt to trash the news doing the rounds, tweeted, “A false rumour is being spread on social media about a missing minor girl held captive in a Metiabruz house and police being afraid of raiding house. Don’t believe in rumours being spread to create communal tension. All indulged in spreading rumours wud be severely dealt with (sic).”

Following which several Facebook groups like Calcutta Liberals declared that posts related to Metiabruz issue would be deleted as the police had debunked the theory. Reacting to it, Dutta, who is also a moderator of the group said, “I presume when a publication like ABP did a story on the same, made the police jump into action as they realized that the public will be taken for a ride.”

Interestingly, the ABP story, which is being shared by several to prove the police inefficiency nowhere in the copy mentions that the police didn’t raid or they were afraid of raiding the house. A senior police official said, “It’s true that the girl is missing for 10 months and that the High Court has directed us to trace her. But there is more to this case. Some sections of people are simply communalizing the case.”

Replying to a message of eNewsroom, regarding the action, Joint CP Crime, Pravin Tripathy stated, “Police has started a specific case and have conducted several raids at all probable hideouts. My DD team has conducted raid under proper video coverage in that house also. There are some mischief mongers who are spreading wrong information and rumour. We will take strict action against them as per law.”

eNewsroom, also tried contacting local Metiabruz residents to gauge the ground reality. Kashif Zafar, an educationist and social worker from the Garden Reach area said, “I am amazed at the way, people are terming not just Garden Reach and Metiabruz area as Mini Pakistan but also Khidderpore area. Let’s state a simple fact – anti-socials will be found in many localities, but that doesn’t mean that the entire locality is inhabited by criminals. Coming to this particular case, whatever bit of information that I have been able to gather, it’s evident that this case is being communalised for political gain. The house in question has been raided not once but many a time and the police have not been able to locate the girl there.  We understand the parent concern, but we should allow the police to do its job and trace the girl, instead of getting agitated and giving a communal twist to it.”

Communal violence has sharply increased over the past three years in West Bengal, according to the data compiled by the Union Home Ministry.

Communal violence has been on the rise in West Bengal since 2015. The number of communal violence have doubled from 27 (2015) to 58 (2017). Last year, Bashirhat was under siege after an objectionable picture had been circulated on Facebook. Last month Bengal’s Raniganj and Asansol witness fresh communal clashes following the Ram Navami celebration.

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In recent times, people-centric journalism is being done mostly by independent digital media. These organizations run on public support. Founded in 2017, eNewsroom India has been doing meaningful stories for over four years now. We practice ‘Old School Journalism’ and focus on under-reported stories from Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan regularly. Our opinion pieces come from across the country.

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