The blast at the firework factory in Naihati poses many questions as it has now been alleged that it was producing country bombs. BJP has demanded a NIA investigation into the blasts.
- Suman Bhattacharya
The Khagragarh blast on 2 October 2014 had exploded the myth of safety and security in Bengal. Two Mujahideen terrorists had been killed on spot. One man and two women with children were arrested from the house. The owner of the house, Nurul Hasan Choudhury, is a local TMC leader and the house had a local TMC party office on the ground floor. On 30 August 2019, a special NIA Court convicted 19 out of the 31 accused in the blast.
A little more than four months after this NIA verdict, another major blast occurred in a fireworks factory at Masjidpara, Devok village, Naihati, in the district of the north 24 Parganas, on 3 January 2020. The local residents were traumatized at the serial blasts from the factory, which continued for more than ten minutes, as verified from local sources. The impact of the blasts was huge and they could be heard from the border areas of Hooghly district on the other side of the Ganga. Four people (1 Muslim and 3 Hindus) have been reported to have died on spot.
BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh has demanded an NIA investigation hinting at a conspiracy similar to that of Khagragarh. He confirmed that this factory was producing country bombs. His allegations are further strengthened by the rampant use of such bombs at Duttapukur in the vicinity, which has witnessed serious communal clashes over the last few days in the new year.
Jagdeep Dhankhar, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal, has also tweeted his 'pain and anguish' over the incident and warranted an 'intense expert probe'. The owner of the factory, Nur Hossain, was arrested from neighbouring Amdanga the following day. Amdanga had witnessed violent political clashes in March 2018 during the Panchayat elections in which 5 people (4 CPIM, 1TMC) succumbed to bomb injuries. Incidentally all of them were Muslim and CPIM accused TMC for the killings.
Four people have been reported to have died on spot in the Naihati blasts
It is interesting to note that of the ten illegal arms factories unearthed during 2017-19, seven were in the north 24Parganas, at Kakinada, Jagaddal and Naihati. The other three were operating at the Baruipur and Maheshtala areas of the south 24 Parganas.
The police have at least confirmed that the factory had piled up a huge stock of explosives and chemicals. This points to the dismal condition of law and order in the state. At one point of time, Monghyr in Bihar was regarded as the manufacturing hub and storehouse of illegal firearms and crude bombs. With the improvement in the law and order situation in Bihar in recent times, this illegal industry and its workers are reported to have shifted to different areas in West Bengal, particularly the north 24 Parganas. The abundant and indiscriminate use of crude bombs was noticed during the demonstrations across the state, from Lalgola to Uluberia, against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in December 2019. One such bomb was hurled at Ajay Singh Yadav, DC Headquarters of the Howrah Commissionerate and he suffered serious injuries.
In the state, militancy is currently overlooked in the name of civil rights and the manufacturing of illegal arms and crude bombs has assumed the nature of a prosperous cottage industry. It raises serious questions for the security of the Indian nation in which general law-abiding citizens feel increasingly unsafe and marginalized.