Kolkata: Several top BJP leaders were arrested by the Kolkata Police on Thursday while taking out a rally to condemn the comments of a Muslim cleric who had issued a "fatwa" against state party president Dilip Ghosh.
The rally was organised against the fatwa issued by Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, Maulauna Noor-ur Rahman Barkati, against Ghosh for his comments against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The rally started from Central Avenue near BJP state office and was scheduled to reach Tipu Sultan Mosque in Esplanade area in the heart of the city.
Police cordoned off Central Avenue and asked BJP workers not to proceed but when they tried to move ahead, police used force to stop them from crossing the barricade.
"Some of the BJP leaders and workers have been arrested. We tried to stop them but they tried to force their way, so we had to arrest them. But at this moment we can't give the figures and names," a Kolkata police official said.
BJP claimed that Ghosh was injured during a scuffle with police when it tried to stop the rally. It also said senior leaders, including MLA Swadhin Kumar Sarkar and state BJP general secretary Deboshree Chowdhary, were arrested.
Ghosh said, "This is inhuman and undemocratic. We are not being allowed to take out a rally peacefully. We condemn this autocratic rule of TMC. They (TMC) are so much busy with appeasement politics, that we are not allowed to take out a rally."
The Imam had on Monday issued a fatwa against Ghosh for making "filthy comments" against the chief minister.
"From where does he (Ghosh) get such audacity to make filthy comments against our beloved chief minister who is the most secular leader of our country? I issued the fatwa which states that he should be pelted with stones and then kicked out of Bengal. He does not deserve to stay in Bengal," Barkati had said while issuing the fatwa.
Reacting to the charges, Ghosh lashed out at Barkati and said this country is neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh that he could issue a fatwa and go scot-free.
"What does Barkati think? Is this Bangladesh or Pakistan that he will issue a fatwa against me? He can issue a fatwa against TMC, they will listen to him, but not BJP. It seems that Barkati no longer wishes to stay in Bengal or India. I think he is planning to migrate to Pakistan or Bangladesh," Ghosh had hit back.