Kolkata witnesses pitched battles between BJP workers and police, PCR van torched
Kolkata, September 13, 2022
The streets of Kolkata turned into a virtual battlefield on Tuesday afternoon as BJP activists, marching to the West Bengal Secretariat to protest corruption issues, clashed with police.
A police vehicle was torched, while a BJP councillor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, an Assistant Commissioner of Police and several others, including BJP supporters and police personnel, were injured.
At around 3 p.m., a group of BJP supporters led by the party's national vice-president Dilip Ghosh and state general secretary Jagannath Chattopadhyay, started moving towards the state secretariat, Nabanna, from its state headquarters at Muralidhar Sen Lane.
As they reached central Kolkata, they came to know that Leader of Opposition in Assembly Suvendu Adhikari had been arrested and taken to the Kolkata Police headquarters at Lalbazar. At this, a section of BJP supporters from the arms led by Chattopadhyay started marching towards the police headquarters and were able to reach the gates of the complex after breaking through the barricades.
Although the police were initially pushed back, soon a huge contingent of security personnel, led by senior officials of Kolkata Police, stopped the BJP supporters, following which clashes broke out there.
Violence also spread to the adjacent Mahatma Gandhi Road, where a police PCR van was allegedly set on fire by BJP supporters.
An ACP and a BJP councillor, Meena Devi Purohit, along with several others, were injured.
Mahatma Gandhi Road, being a trading hub, has a number of shops with many storing inflammable items. The burning PCR van created panic in the locality and the traders quickly pulled down the shutters of their shops. However, the fire tenders quickly rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire before it could spread further.
A police kiosk there was also vandalised by the BJP supporters.
However, BJP state President Sukanta Majumdar alleged that the PCR van was set on fire by the police only and the blame put on his party supporters. Senior city officials rubbished his claims.
The police resorted to baton charging and water-cannons to disperse the agitated BJP supporters, who retaliated with brickbats and bamboo poles. Finally, the police resorted to firing of teargas shells to disperse the mob.
Being stopped from progressing further, Sukanta Majumdar and Agnimitra Pual immediately sat down on the streets along with their supporters near Howrah Maidan and started a sit- in demonstration. Both alleged that the police, along with ruling Trinamool Congress activists, resorted to unprovoked attacks on their supporters. Later, Majumdar was also put in the prison van.
Separate clashes were reported between the BJP supporters and the police forces at the Santragachi railway station. BJP activists started picking up stones from the railway tracks and pelting them towards the police. The police also resorted to baton charges and teargas shell firing to control the violent mob. Some of the police personnel were injured in the clashes.
Following the clashes, the traffic on the adjacent Kona Expressway got totally disrupted, with a large number of vehicles, including some ambulances ferrying critical patients, getting stranded.
Trinamool Congress state general secretary and the party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh said the BJP leaders and workers deliberately attacked the police personnel. "The BJP leaders know that they lack mass base and support in West Bengal. So, they are trying to attract attention through such violent tactics," he said.
Majumdar said that the police had started actions against BJP workers across the state from early Tuesday morning much before the beginning of the rally. "Many of our supporters were not even allowed to board the trains coming to Kolkata this morning," he alleged.