KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress MLA Paresh Pal, the chief patron of Kankurgachhi Kali Puja committee, has come out with a statement clearing the controversy surrounding Bangladeshi cricketer Shakib Al Hasan’s attendance at the puja inauguration last Thursday. The player had received a death threat in Bangladesh, shortly after which he issued a public apology on social media.
“I share a close bond with Shakib and invited him to the puja, but he hadn’t inaugurated it – our minister Firhad Hakim did. Shakib reached the venue 10 minutes after the inauguration and was felicitated for his achievements. My constituency has a 35% Muslim population who also attend the puja. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about,” Pal, the Beliaghata MLA, told on Wednesday.
In videos circulating on social media, Shakib was seen lighting a candle at the inauguration. He returned to Bangladesh on Friday. Two days later, someone made a Facebook live video threatening to kill the all-rounder for “hurting Muslim sentiments” and “cut him into pieces with a chopper for blasphemy”. The video was later deleted, but Bangladesh police arrested the accused on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Shakib released a video on social media, clarifying he hadn’t inaugurated the puja and was there for a few minutes for photo ops. “Being a practising Muslim, I always try to follow religious customs. Please forgive me if I have done anything wrong,” he says in the clip.
Pal said, “I am a secular person. Bangladesh is my homeland and I have cordial ties with several Bangladeshis. I had invited Shakib and will continue to invite people from Bangladesh, which can only enhance the feeling of brotherhood.”