Kolkata: Internet has been blocked across a large area in Hooghly district of West Bengal to prevent the escalation of communal tensions amid the coronavirus crisis. Internet service has been clamped down in Chandannagar, Bhadreshwar, Singur, Haripal, Tarkeshwar, Srirampur, Rishra, Uttarpara, Dankuni, Chanditala and Jangipara till May 18. 

On Sunday evening, there was a clash between two groups at Telinipara in Bhadreshwar area of the district. Bricks, stones and even some bombs were hurled at various houses in the locality. Also, jewellery shops and grocery stores were looted. 

This led to blame game among political parties as the BJP and the ruling party of the state locked horns over the incident. The saffron brigade levelled accusations against a local TMC councilor of encouraging communal disharmony. Later, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee was stopped by police on Monday morning when she tried to visit the spot. 

This aggravated the tense situation further. The bombing and vandalism continued on Tuesday morning too. Locket Chatterjee and Arjun Singh, two BJP MPs of the state, asked Jagdeep Dhankhar, the Governor of West Bengal, to intervene stating the plight of the people of Telinipara.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee blatantly attacked the BJP and said, "I will suffer, if a Hindu or a Muslim is hurt. In Bengal, everyone is equal to me. Here all religions are taught to be respected. I have never done politics based on religion, nor will I ever. But there are some who indulge in politics over religion." 

"Those who are flouting lockdown rules and rioting on streets, whichever community he may belong to, I have asked the police to take strict action. No one will be spared. If necessary, action will be taken under the epidemic law. These incidents will not be tolerated,"  the chief minister warned. 

According to local police, rumours were spreading through social media in Telinipara. After Mamata Banerjee's stern warning, the district administration decided to shut down internet services in Chandannagar and Srirampur sub-divisions from 12 noon on Tuesday. Y Ratnakar Rao, Hooghly district magistrate issued a guideline regarding this. 

Meanwhile, police conducted another operation in Telinipara area on Tuesday night which was led by Chandannagar police commissioner Siddhinath Gupta. 36 people suspected of being involved in the riots were arrested from the affected areas.