Kolkata streets turn into war zone as violence shrouds BJPs protest march

Kolkata streets turn into war zone as violence shrouds BJP's protest march

Roads around the 19th century iconic Howrah Station resembled a battleground on Tuesday (September 13) with brickbats aimed at police personnel flying thick and fast, and drenched protesters hit by water cannons limping to the safety of nearby alleyways and shops.

BJP agitators brought in by special trains for a protest march to the Bengal secretariat turned violent when they found roads leading to the states seat of power barricaded by riot police.

Dilip Biswas, 34, who had boarded one of the special trains to come to the metropolis from Andal, said, I never realised the protest march would turn into such a fierce combat… The police were relentless, while those in the crowd besides me were equally violent.

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I do not know who started throwing stones at the police but after two officers went down like nine pins, they started firing water cannons, burst tear gas shells and lathi charged us.

The protesters also hurled glass bottles at police personnel while some of them were seen lifting tree logs to chase security forces away. Several people on both sides were reportedly injured in the melee.

I had come here to buy electrical goods for my shop in Serampore without knowing that protests here would become so violent… My pocket has been picked, my eyes are stinging due to tear gas and I have somehow managed to escape being lathi charged. I want to forget this day and just get back home, said Kaushik Ghosh in a sombre tone.

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Meanwhile, a number of BJP leaders, who took part in the rally, were detained by police along with their supporters. BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar, party leader Agnimitra Paul and hundreds of activists staged a sit-in at Howrah Maidan after police stopped them from proceeding towards Nabanna (state secretariat).

The saffron camp has been taking out rallies across West Bengal for the past couple of days, asking party workers to assemble outside the secretariat to protest against the TMC regimes alleged corrupt practices.

BJP workers held at railway stations

Four BJP workers were arrested from Panagarh railway station in West Burdwan district while they were on their way to Bengal BJP’s march to the secretariat. Some BJP workers were taken into preventive custody in Raniganj as well.

BJP workers have alleged that the police are selectively arresting only BJP workers and supporters after entering each train station.

BJP Leader Abhijit Dutta said that 20 of the party leaders were stopped by police near Durgapur railway station. “20 of our workers were stopped by police near Durgapur railway station. I reached here using other paths,” Dutta said.

BJP leaders accuse Mamata govt

Before the detention, Adhikari said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has turned West Bengal into North Korea. “Chief Minister Mamata does not have the support of her people and so she is enforcing dictatorship, similar to North Korea in Bengal. Police will have to pay for what it is doing. BJP is coming,” he said.

Adhikari was leading the march from the Santragachi area while BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh was leading the protest from north Kolkata. “The TMC government is scared of public uprising. Even if they try stop our protest march, we will resist peacefully. The state administration will be responsible for any untoward development,” Ghosh said earlier.

Rahul Sinha accused the Mamata government of trying to forcibly stop the “democratic protest” by his party. He alleged that BJP supporters were prevented from boarding a special train from Alipurduar to Sealdah last evening to take part in the protest march. “They were also lathicharged by the state police,” he alleged.

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The BJP had arranged seven trains, three from north Bengal and four from south, for the supporters to take part in the ‘Nabanna Abhijan’. Buses carrying BJP workers to Kolkata were also stopped by the police in North 24 Parganas, party sources said.

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