After violence in Kolkata, Mamata, BJP trade barbs
NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah's first roadshow in Kolkata ended with violence, arson and a police lathicharge Tuesday as the rallyists clashed with students holding "Amit Shah Go Back" posters. Shah called it an attempt to "strangulate democracy". Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the violence was triggered by goons the BJP brought from outside Bengal.
Violence erupted Tuesday evening at the gates of Calcutta University. Some students in the campus allegedly shouted anti-BJP slogans and BJP supporters rushed at them with rods. Policemen stepped in to prevent a clash.
Less than a kilometre down College Street, Amit Shah's van passed by Vidyasagar College but rallyists following him allegedly charged at the students standing with "Go Back Amit Shah" posters. The BJP supporters rushed into the campus, set motorcycles on fire and vandalised the bust of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar - a 19th-century educationist and social reformer. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee visited the college in the evening.
The police initially used batons to bring the crowd under control. Later, several people were arrested for the violence, a police officer said.
A BJP delegation, comprising Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, GVL Narasimha Rao and others went to the Election Commission Tuesday evening over the clashes.
Shah said while clashes erupted police remained a mute spectator.
He said he was told by police that the permission for the roadshow ended near the college and that he will be taken to the ancestral home of Swami Vivekananda on Bidhan Sarani.
Banerjee hit right back, calling Shah a "goonda". "If you lay your hands on Vidyasagar, what will I call you other than a goonda," she told a rally in Behala in the city.
"I hate your ideology, I hate your ways," she said and announced a protest rally on Thursday against the vandalisation of the bust of Vidyasagar.
Gautam Kundu, principal of Vidyasagar college said, "The BJP supporters carrying party flags barged inside the office and started abusing us. They tore papers, ransacked the offices and union rooms and while leaving desecrated the bust of Vidyasagar. They locked the gates and set bikes and motorcycles on fire".
A few students were injured by the BJP supporters, he said.