BJP workers, policemen injured during Kolkata protest march
A large number of BJP workers and policemen were injured and a police vehicle was torched as BJP workers, protesting against the law and order situation in the state and alleged fake cases lodged against party workers, clashed with security personnel here on Thursday.
The affected parts of central Kolkata resembled a war zone, with security forces using water canons, batons and lobbing teargas shells on the activists, who also hurled bricks during their protest march.
BJP national General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, party's West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh, Rajya Sabha MP Rupa Ganguly and former Kolkata Deputy Mayor Meena Devi Purohit were among those arrested after party workers led by them broke barricades in their bid to march to the city police headquarters in Lalbazar.
Actress-turned-politician Ganguly fell ill after scuffling and jostling with the police personnel who faced a torrid time reining in the rampaging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers.
Another actress-turned-political activist Locket Chatterjee had to be taken to the Kolkata Medical College for treatment after her arrest.
A police vehicle was torched and another government vehicle damaged on B.B. Ganguly Street close to Lalbazar. A number of police personnel also sustained injuries from the stone-missiles hurled at them.
The situation got heated up after the BJP activists assembled close to the Tea Board of India office on Brabourne Road and allegedly hurled a bomb which injured a policeman. However, the party's national Secretary Rahul Sinha denied it.
"Police are trying to mislead everybody by claiming that bombs were hurled, while actually it was only the sound of teargas shells lobbed by the police," said an injured Sinha, who was also arrested.
In a bid to keep the situation under control and disperse the mob, police resorted to baton charge and used water cannons on the BJP workers at Bentinck Street and Phears Lane.
Near Bentinck Street, a number of BJP activists lay wounded after a round of baton charge. A couple of women activists were seen resting beside the police guard rail with head injuries.
After being driven away by the police and Rapid Action Force personnel from Central Avenue, some BJP activists took shelter inside the Central Metro Station and pelted stones from there. They were detained later.
Shouting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', 'Jai Sri Ram' and 'Vande Mataram', the BJP supporters assembled in large numbers at three points - Dharmatala Y Channel in central Kolkata, Howrah station and College Square in the northern part of the city, where rallies began around 1 p.m.
Ghosh, who led a large procession from Howrah, was arrested from Brabourne Road.
However, even before the march formally started, around 20 BJP workers surprised police personnel by suddenly arriving in a private bus near Lalbazar that was turned into a fortress since morning. They were immediately taken into custody. Later in the day, the BJP supporters made more attempts to storm the police headquarters and reached its vicinity, only to be arrested.
BJP state Vice President Jay Prakash Majumdar alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had lost control of the state administration and claimed that the government was actually being run by police.
"Banerjee has no control over law and order. Some senior police and IAS officers are running this government and Mamata is sitting at the helm without any power," Majumdar said.
Barricades, guard rails and iron scaffolding were set up and around 2,000 heavily armed personnel, including combat forces, Rapid Action Force and commandos, deployed to check any untoward incident. Drones kept a tab on the movement of protestors.
Thursday's protest came only three days after the Left peasant unions' 'March to Nabanna' (state secretariat) that left nearly 200 people - protesters and police - injured.