Parts of Kolkata and Howrah district turned into a battlefield on Tuesday as BJP supporters clashed with the police while trying to get past barricades erected to prevent them from marching towards the West Bengal secretariat ‘Nabanna’.
Several police officers and saffron camp members, including leaders Mina Devi Purohit and Swapan Dasgupta, were reportedly injured during the rally organised to protest against the alleged corrupt practices of the Trinamool Congress government.
Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari, the party’s Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee and senior leader Rahul Sinha and several other leaders were detained. While the BJP alleged that the Mamata government does not want to give space to opposition parties, the TMC described the saffron camp workers as ‘hooligans’.
A Kolkata Police officer said, “There was no report of any serious injury to any protesters though several police personnel have suffered injuries”. The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the agitators, who tried to go past the barricades that were put in place at several points in Kolkata and its adjoining areas.
“Everyone got to see how the partisan police tried scuttling a leader of the opposition’s democratic right to protest outside Nabanna. I was manhandled by a woman constable, people saw that too,” Adhikari told reporters before being whisked away in a prison van.
In Santragachhi in Howrah district, the police were pelted with stones as they chased away the protesters. A police kiosk was damaged as the demonstrators were stopped from moving forward. The pitched battle continued for several hours at Santragachhi as BJP activists went on throwing stones at the cops standing outside the station and police reinforcements were sent to quell the situation.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Howrah town, Kolkata’s Lalbazar and MG Road areas where protesters engaged in a scuffle with the police. In Lalbazar, a police vehicle was set on fire. Police used water cannons near Howrah bridge, Howrah Maidan area and Santragachhi.