Switch Off the Lights and You'll Be Marked, Warns Trinamool Congress Leader; BJP Demands Action

In what can be termed as an ugly turn of politics over '9 baje, 9 minute' event, a member of the West Bengal child's rights body and a ruling party sympathizer Prasun Bhoumick has taken to Facebook to put a post warning people of Bengal against switching off lights on Sunday at 9PM, as urged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to show solidarity with corona warriors like doctors, nurses and police.

He warned that those who will not pay heed to it, their residences will be marked by a chalk, leaving the opposition BJP to call it an intimidation tactic.

Bhoumick put out a Facebook post in Bengali that reads as, "Those who will switch off their lights at 9PM on 5.4.20...their homes will be marked with chalk. At least, their addresses will be put in a list". He concluded by saying, 'Hail Bangla, Hail Marjina'."

On Friday morning, PM Modi shared a short video clip, as announced by him earlier on Thursday, urging all to light diyas or candles or even flash flights in their balconies or outside their main gate, as a mark of respect to the Corona Warriors - doctors, nurses, sanitation workers and police personnel who are braving it out on the front lines.

"I request all of you to switch off all the lights of your house on 5 April at 9 PM for 9 minutes, and just light a candle, 'diya', or mobile's flashlight, to mark our fight against coronavirus," he said.

This blatant warning assumes significance, given the power Bhoumick yields. He was a member of the West Bengal Commission of Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) in May 2019 (He continues to be in that post), when the child rights body had taken cognizance of a molestation allegation against the BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour Nilanjan Roy, just days before the constituency went to polls in the general elections.

Back then, calling it a "a conspiracy to malign", BJP leader Mukul Roy had accused the WBCPCR of being part of the conspiracy as the Commission members like Bhoumick and actress June Maliya had been seen campaigning for the ruling Trinamool Congress.

When contacted, Bhoumick brushed the issue aside, calling it as freedom of expression. "Of course it's a political post," he conceded.

He argued that the call for switching off lights by the Prime Minister has given rise to concern among many about grid failure. When pressed on whether it was an intimidation tactic, he explained this to be an analogy drawn from the folktale Alibaba, where houses are marked with chalks.

BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta called it "hate speech at its best".

"This is the political culture of West Bengal that lets people like Prasun Bhoumick believe such open threats are mens of legitimate politics. It's an open threat. I think it should be acted upon", Dasgupta said.