Kolkata: A group of men holding BJP flags were heard raising the controversial "desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro s****n ko" (shoot dead the country's traitors) slogans at Kolkata's Esplanade on Sunday afternoon. They shouted the slogan when passing the Maidan Market in Esplanade, on their way to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's rally at Shahid Minar ground.
There has been a controversy over raising of such slogans during BJP rallies during Delhi Assembly polls and protests in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) due to allegations that they provoke violence.
The incident took place at around 1.15pm when a section of BJP supporters wearing saffron clothes were heard raising the slogan as well as shouting "kisko chahiye azadi...hum denge azadi (who wants freedom, we will give you freedom)".
The slogan-shouting BJP supporters came close to Congress and Left Front members who chanted "Go Back Amit Shah" on the other flank of the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, but a showdown was averted as a large number of police personnel posted nearby intervened and took control of the situation.
As soon as a video of people raising the incendiary slogans went viral on social-media, the Kolkata Police swung in to action and started an investigation into the matter.
"We are going through the CCTV footage of the area and trying to identify those who raised the slogans," said a senior police of the Kolkata police, appealing to people to refrain from making comments that could flare up to communal tension in the city. "Those who were involved in today’s incident will be identified and stern action will be taken.”
No arrest had been made until Sunday evening.
Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "They are trying to create the same atmosphere in West Bengal as its in Delhi. There also, they are raising slogans like 'goli maaro s****n ko', as if the entire country is their 'saala' (wife's brother) and they are the brothers-in-law. All the 'saalas' needs to come together and stand against them. They are trying to divide the country into pieces."
However, the state BJP leadership denied involvement of any party worker in the incident and termed it as the "handiwork of the TMC (Trinamool Congress)". State BJP vice-president Subhas Sarkar said no party workers were involved in this sloganeering.
"It was a mega rally in Kolkata. We feel it was the handiwork of the TMC to malign our party," he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim criticised the role of the Mamata Banerjee administration, claiming police were "inactive" against those raising the slogan.
"They (the BJP) are trying to vitiate the atmosphere of West Bengal. We had heard the 'goli maro' slogan in Delhi. Now, thanks to the Mamata Banerjee government and her police, who were mere spectator, we saw them shouting it here," said Salim.
At an election rally in Delhi, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had raised the slogan. On January 30, the Election Commission barred him from campaigning for the Delhi Assembly polls for 72 hours.
Six persons were also detained at Delhi's Rajiv Chowk metro station on Saturday for raising the same slogan.
Chowdhury said the Congress is seeking Home Minister's resignation and will also raise this issue in Parliament.
When asked about his alleged hate speech on Sunday, Thakur accused journalists of lying and said they should not be commenting on the issue with "half-baked knowledge".
(With inputs from PTI)