On 13 May, 'Chowkidar' Shishir Bajoria, Kolkata-based industrialist and BJP state executive member, tweeted that the West Bengal police have asked 'Gujaratis' in Barasat to leave immediately, ahead of the polls.
His tweet was immediately met with both incredulity and agreement alike, with some likening Gujaratis to being the 'new Kashmiri Hindus'.
The Quint reached out Bajoria to understand where he got this information from, and here's what he said:
“On 12 May, the police was doing a routine check on all the hotels when a group of Gujaratis were found in a particular hotel. On questioning, the police found out that they were BJP workers and barged into their rooms asking to search their belongings without any warrant. When they resisted, the police asked all the Gujaratis to leave. Now whether they said all Gujarati BJP workers or all Gujaratis, I don't know."
When asked if the workers were actually made to leave post this altercation, Bajoria evaded the question.
However, when The Quint spoke to the local police, they denied asking anyone to leave. "We were doing routine checks in all hotels and lodges before elections. Some people who were outsiders were just checked in the process. No one was asked to leave. No one can be asked to leave. It was a routine procedure," the Superintendent of Police, Barasat, said.
Thus, Bajoria's tweet claiming that the state police has asked “Gujaratis to leave immediately” is untrue, since the people searched were BJP workers from Gujarat and not 'Gujaratis' in general, as the tweet suggested. Also, according to the local police, they were not asked to leave and were only checked as part of routine pre-poll conduct.
Meanwhile, they said BJP workers, who had come from Gujarat to attend Amit Shah’s rally on 12 May, were scheduled for a meeting at a local leader's house and used cars from outside to reach the venue. However, when they reached the local leader's house, they were met with a group of protesting TMC workers. The local TMC candidate Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar had informed the police, accusing the BJP of using these vehicles to hand out money.
Acting on the candidate's complaint, the police reached the spot and conducted a search on the cars, when it was discovered that one of the vehicles carried the logo of a high-ranking officer.
Following this development, The Quint has learnt that the police registered a suo moto case of impersonation in connection with the vehicle being used by BJP workers.