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Who is Haji Nurul Islam nominated by TMC from Sandeshkhali’s Bashirhat: Mastermind of 2010 riot where Muslim mob burnt down Hindu homes & temples to stop Durga Puja

In the mayhem that lasted for three days in Deganga in 2010, as many as 250 shops had been looted. 50 Hindu houses had been burnt to ashes and 5 temples were desecrated.

On Sunday, March 10, the Trinamool Congress Party led by Mamata Banerjee released its candidate roster for all 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. For the Bashirhat constituency, the party has dropped its sitting MP Nusrat Jahan and instead pitted its former MP Haji Nurul Islam.

Interestingly, the Sandeshkhali village, which witnessed widespread protests against Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and Mamata Banerjee’s close aide Shahjahan Sheikh and his goons over allegations of land grabbing and sexual assault, falls under the Bashirhat Constituency.

Apart from accusations of institutionalised sexual exploitation, rape, property encroachment, and corruption, Sheikh Shahjahan, whom the party was forced to suspend after the Sandeshkhali row became a national debate, faces several criminal cases, including murder of three BJP supporters and violence against power department employees in West Bengal. In most cases, either the case chargesheet is unavailable or the investigation against Shahjahan is pending. Despite all of this, the Mamata Banerjee’s government gave a clean chit to her aide Sheikh Shahjahan and instead pinned the blame on the BJP and the RSS.

Mamata Banerjee received severe backlash for her blatant bias in handling the case against Sheikh Sahajahan. The Calcutta HC rebuked her government for delaying action against the TMC leader. “Sheikh Shahjahan has some 43 cases against him. Now, for the next 10 years, this man will keep you busy. You will have to handle all his cases till the next 10 years at least,” the Chief Justice told Shahjahan’s lawyer.

Opposition party leaders, including those of the BJP, also castigated Mamata and her administration for turning a blind eye towards the crime committed by the party’s strongman. Owing to the pressure, Trinamool Congress suspended Sheikh Shahjahan from the party for six years.

Now, after all of this, Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to field the 60-year-old incumbent MLA in the Haroa constituency Haji Nurul Islam from the Basirhat seat that covers the Sandeshkhali region who is the prime accused in the 2010 anti-Hindu Deganga riots, which he orchestrated with the aim to disrupt that year’s Durga Puja celebrations in the state.

Who is former TMC MP Haji Nurul Islam, the key conspirator of the 2010 anti-Hindu Deganga riots

Born in 1964, Haji Nurul Islam is a former MP who represented the Bashirhat constituency in West Bengal from 2009 to 2014 on a TMC ticket. One of the tallest minority community leaders in the party, Nurul Islam was the key conspirator behind the over three-day mayhem that erupted on September 6, 2010, in the Deganga district in West Bengal. He reportedly led a mob of 500 frenzied Islamists who destroyed properties belonging to Hindus; desecrated temples and also set vehicles and police jeeps on fire.

Deganga is approximately 50 km from Kolkata’s Dum Dum airport, past the busy suburban town of Barasat. The Deganga violence happened in September 2010, months before the 2011 Assembly elections in the state, which saw Mamata Banerjee winning an absolute majority of seats in the state in a historic win marking the end of the 34-year rule of Left Front, the longest-serving democratically elected communist government in the world. Several media reports had then suggested of a linkage between the motivated triggering of the rampage and the forthcoming State Assembly polls.

Deganga was a longtime Left bastion until the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when CPI candidate Ajay Chakrabarti was overwhelmingly defeated by avowed fundamentalist, Haji Nurul Islam of the Trinamool Congress. Since then, Deganga has been a victim of communal division.

Deganga, which was predominantly a Hindu-dominated region, was gradually going through a major demographic shift even when the Left was at the helm in West Bengal. Things, however, became worse after the reigns of Deganga went into the hands of Haji Nurul Islam in 2009.

To consolidate Muslim votes, Haji Nurul Islam had promised his core vote bank that a mike would be installed atop a mosque in Deganga Bazar in defiance of an express Calcutta High Court order and that he would expand a Muslim cemetery constructed on a piece of land in the Chattal Pally village that originally belonged to the legendary Rani Rashmoni, patron of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, mentor of Swami Vivekanand. Adjacent to the cemetery there was a Shiv temple and the Hindus every year, for the last 39 years, used to organise a community Durga puja celebration next to this place of Hindu worship. The flashpoint for the 2010 anti-Hindu riots was this piece of land.

Before the riots were instigated on September 6, 2010, the Hindu community was building a pandal next to their temple, as they did every year. On the morning of 6 September, the Muslims in the area started building a wall around the cemetery, which was constructed against the boundary of the Hindu temple. Members of the Hindu community objected to the construction of the wall as that was blocking the entry to the Shiv temple and also the Durga puja pandal. Haji Nurul Islam reportedly saw this as an opportunity and instigated the local Muslims against the Hindus.

A Muslim mob of around 500 people, led by Haji Nurul Islam, started a road blockade. On the evening of September 6, the mob marched to the police station where they created a ruckus. On the way and back, the frenzied Muslim mob destroyed hundreds of houses and shops belonging to Hindus. Besides, they also set fire to several vehicles and police jeeps and desecrated the Shiv temple.

A journalist of the Daily Pioneer, who had then visited the area after the mayhem reported how the Muslim mob had vandalised an idol placed at a roadside Kali temple and threw it on the road. They also ransacked and burnt several shops and houses belonging to the Hindus in the area.

“We were virtually dragged into the interior by a frenzied crowd that wanted us to see the wanton burning of houses and hutments by mobs who came from outside to “teach a lesson” to members of a community,” the report read.

The disruption continued overnight and into the next morning. When the number of confirmed injuries reached at least 24, the police, outnumbered by the mob, were reinforced first by paramilitary troops from Kolkata and subsequently by the Rapid Action Force (RAF). Additionally, a curfew was implemented in the area under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The central government dispatched the Army since the paramilitary RAF was also outnumbered and unable to take complete control of the situation. The force, which was variously reported to comprise 200 and 400 personnel, conducted route marches in the area.

A young person who had been shot by a Muslim rioter died, exacerbating the bloodshed. On September 8, the violence intensified. In one incident, an Islamist mob from Ramnathpur and Khejurdanga attacked homes in the Salimpukur and Hospital neighbourhood, which is located off the Taki Road that passes through the district.

In the mayhem that lasted for three days in Deganga in 2010, as many as 250 shops had been looted. 50 Hindu houses had been burnt to ashes and 5 temples were desecrated. The Muslim mob had also hoisted a loudspeaker at the mosque near Deganga market, violating the High Court order.

An FIR was filed against Haji Nurul Islam, in which he was named as the prime accused in the 2010 Degenge riots. The TMC leader, however, denied the allegations. Instead, he claimed that he had tried to pacify the Muslim rioters. Trinamool Party also refused to take part in meetings intended to resolve the riots.

Haji Nurul Islam’s influence within the Trinamool cadre, particularly among the Muslim voter base, is notable, evident in his role as chairman of the party’s minority cell. His significance is underscored by the creation of the chairman’s post to accommodate him after being replaced as the minority wing’s president by Mosarraf Hossain.

‘I saw Nurul Islam shouting at his men to ravage the temple’: Eyewitnesses of 2010 Degange riots narrated some horrific details

Several Hindus came out following the riots to recount the horrifying specifics of the carnage that TMC’s Haji Nurul Islam and his henchmen had unleashed. Uttam Saha, a Hindu trader lamented, “Either kill us or give us a reason to live with dignity,” after losing products valued at Rs 4.5 lakh to the chaos. They have robbed all we owned and set fire to our homes and businesses.”

Niranjan Sarkar, another Hindu victim from Kartickpur, added, “I witnessed Nurul Islam yelling at his men as they drove on trucks from Beliaghata, Sashan, and Basirhat to destroy the temple. Overwhelmed with guilt and rage, he continued, “After disfiguring the idols of Lord Shani and goddess Kali, they smashed them.

One criminal being replaced by another: Netizens slam Mamata Banerjee for favouring criminals

Owing to Haji Nurul Islam’s past criminal antecedents, several opposition leaders and social media users chastised Mamata Banerjee for not only providing safe haven to criminals but also elevating them to leadership roles.

Journalist Abhijit Mujumdar claimed that Haji Nurul Islam was the preferred candidate to succeed Sheikh Shahjahan by the Mamata Banerjee administration.

While one X user asserted that nominating radical Islamist Haji Nurul Islam from Bashirhat constituency was TMC’s ploy to appease the local Muslims of the area, while others highlighted how Mamata Banerjee was endangering the future of the Hindus in Sandehkhali, who had up until now suffered under the anarchy of TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan at the hands of another criminal, Haji Nurul Islam

2016 data shows one out of every three TMC leader has a criminal record

It may be noted that after the 2016 West Bengal Assembly Elections were over the Trinamool came to power for the second term, the Association for Democratic Reforms, a New Delhi-based think tank, released date which read that one our of every three TMC leader in the state had a criminal record.

Source:Indiaspend

According to the report, which was then published, Kerala had 87 MLAs (members of legislative assembly) with criminal charges, while West Bengal had the highest number at 107. Moreover, West Bengal also had 93, winning candidates with serious criminal charges, which was the highest number amongst all the states. Trinamool Congress, which won the elections in West Bengal in 2016, had 66 MLAs with criminal charges, more than any party.

Source: Indiaspend

It also had 60 MLAs face serious criminal cases. The serious criminal cases included murder, attempt to murder, rape, kidnapping and theft.

The Hindu population in the Bashirhat region experienced trauma and victimisation after Haji Nurul Islam was granted control of the Bashirhat constituency by the Trinamool Congress party in 2009. He spurred the local Muslims to carry out the horrifying Deganga massacre, in which a number of Hindu residences, businesses, and temples were attacked and Hindu women were victamised. Hindus in Bashirhat were reeling from the fear and horrors done by Haji Narul Islam and his accomplices, when TMC strongman Sheikh Sahajahan began rearing his head in the area. Popularly referred to as ‘Betaj Badshah’, TMC’s Shahjahan Sheikh was an influential person in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali, an area that is adjacent to the Bangladesh border.

It is believed that Sheikh has played a significant role in the political party in power by aiding in the rigging of the Sandeshkhali area elections.

Additionally, Sheikh’s name has always kept coming up whenever the ruling TMC has clashed with the BJP party in the state.

In fact, in June 2019, violent clashes erupted in Sandeshkhali post the Lok Sabha elections where TMC goons had clashed with BJP workers in the area. The clash led to the death of three BJP workers including Pradip and Sukanta Mandal. TMC’s Shahjahan Sheikh was named as an accused in the FIR filed in connection with the murder of these two BJP workers but he had escaped any sort of police action.

Locals said that Sheikh has been involved in various illegal activities since 2006 but he has always surrounded himself with powerful people as a defensive tactic in case he gets charged with any wrongdoing. This is purportedly the reason why he got away in the BJP workers Pradip and Sukanta Mandal’s murder case.

On Saturday, January 6, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued a lookout notice for Shahjahan Sheikh, a block-level official of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). The move came a day after a team comprising officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), CRPF, and journalists en route to Shahjahan Sheikh’s residence in Sandeshkhali of North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal was attacked and their vehicles were targeted.

The ED team had reached to execute a raid on the residence of Shahjahan Sheikh as part of an investigation into the ration scam when a mob of 800-1000 people, purportedly the supporters of Sheikh attacked the ED team. The ED on Friday said that the mob attacked its officials “with an intention to cause death.”

Weeks after, women started protesting and gheraoed the local police stations demanding the immediate arrest of Sheikh and his associates Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar holding them responsible for land grabbing and gang-raping women.

Mamata Banerjee continued to protect Sheikh Sahajahan for weeks on end. Nevertheless, when the matter started drawing national attention and began to slip through the WB administration’s fingers, they suspended Sheikh Shahjahan under duress. He was eventually handed over to the CBI.

After the sexual predator Sheikh Shahjahan’s arrest, the Hindu victims of Sandeshkhali may be thinking that after years of atrocities, inflicted on them, they would, at last, get to sleep in peace. Just then, the Mamata Government once again planned to send them to the gallows by pitching in the rabid Islamist Haji Nurul Islam from the constituency.

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