Police stop VHP from distributing Hanuman Chalisa at Kolkata Book Fair

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The last day of Kolkata Book Fair on Sunday saw tensed situation after police had closed the stall of Viswa Hindu Parishad for distributing Hanuman Chalisa. Police objected to the distribution of the Hindu holy book after left-wing student groups visiting the book fair protested against it, and ordered the closure of the stall.

According to reports, students from Kolkata University were chanting anti-CAA, anti-NRC slogans outside stall number 370 of the VHP at the Kolkata Book Fair since morning, causing huge inconvenience to fair visitors which was packed to capacity as it was the last day and a holiday. In the afternoon when the stall named ‘Janabaarta’ started distributing Hanuman Chalisa, it triggered an altercation between left-wing activists and VHP workers. Following this the police stopped VHP from distributing the book, saying that it may cause the situation to deteriorate and may trigger communal tension. This caused an argument between VHP workers and police officials, after which police closed the stall.

But after that VHP activists confronted the police by asking why can’t they distribute Hanuman Chalisa when other stalls were distributing Quran and Bible in the book fair, the police had no reply and they allowed to reopen the stall. After that VHP resumed distribution of the book amid heavy police presence.

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“There was tension initially. But when we wanted to know why the Hanuman Chalisa cannot be distributed if other organisations can give out the Quran and the Bible, the police relented and we continued with the distribution,” VHP member Swarup Chatterjee told PTI.

Police also stopped anti-CAA anti-NRC protests held by activists in the book fair, and arrested 5 activists. The book fair had seen tension on Saturday also when BJP leader Rahul Sinha had visited it. Left-wing students had gheraoed him and chanted go-back slogans against him. This had caused a scuffle between the BJP and Left-wing workers, before police had brought the situation under control.

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