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One dead as BJP workers clash with police, party calls north Bengal bandh tomorrow

The police used water cannons and lobbed tear gas shells to stop the BJP workers from moving past the barricades even as the protesters pelted stones. Some activists even set fire to the barricades.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Kolkata | Updated: December 7, 2020 7:59:17 pm
During the clash between BJP workers and police in north Bengal's Siliguri (Express photo)

One BJP worker died as party activists clashed with police in West Bengal’s Siliguri area during their ‘Uttarkanya abhiyaan’ — march to the north Bengal state secretariat — to protest against alleged corruption and deteriorating law and order in the state.

The police used water cannons and lobbed tear gas shells to stop the BJP workers from moving past the barricades even as the protesters pelted stones. Some activists even set fire to the barricades set up in the area. Several protesters and police personnel were injured in clashes.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh claimed one of the workers died of injuries in the police lathicharge. However, police claimed there was no lathicharge and the cause of death of the protester was being ascertained. BJP has called a 12-hour bandh in north Bengal on Tuesday.

The police used water cannons and lobbed tear gas shells to stop the BJP workers from moving past the barricades (Video grab)

The pre-announced protest march was called by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), alleging that the Mamata Banerjee-led government had not fulfilled the promises made to the people of north Bengal, and benefits of the welfare schemes launched by the ruling dispensation failed to reach the common man.

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Besides Ghosh, senior BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Mukul Roy, Yuva Morcha national president Tejaswi Surya and a number of MPs were present at the rally.

Banners lay strewn across the road after the clash. The pre-announced protest march was called by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) (Express photo)

While Ghosh led a rally to Fulbari Bazar — one of the two approach points to the secretariat — Vijayvargiya and Surya led the second rally from Tinbatti More. Vijayvargiya and Surya had to be escorted to their vehicles by their personal security guards as the clashes broke out.

“Ulen Roy, our party worker from Gajaldoba, was beaten up by police using lathis. He received injuries on his head and body. Just now, I heard that he died in a local hospital. I have sent our MP Jayanta Roy (BJP MP from Jalpaiguri) to the hospital. Many of our workers are injured. This is a perfect example of police brutality,” Dilip Ghosh told reporters.

“Police not only fired tear gas shells, water cannons or resorted to lathi charge, but also pelted stones on our workers. Many of our workers are injured,” he said.

Some activists had even set fire to the bamboo barricades set up in the area (Video grab)

Vijayvargiya said the death of Ulen Roy was due to “police brutality”. “Our workers were peacefully marching when police resorted to brutality,” Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary in charge of Bengal, said.

“Today in Siliguri, serious acts of violence were committed by the supporters of a political party during their protest program. They resorted to arson, brick-batting, firing and vandalism of govt property,” West Bengal police said in a tweet.

“Police showed restraint and didn’t do lathicharge or use firearms. Only water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse the violent crowd. However, death of a person has been reported. Body is being sent for PM (post-mortem). The actual cause of death will be known only after the PM,” it said in a series of tweets.

TMC MP Sougata Roy accused the BJP workers of instigating the police. “Regarding the death, the administration and police will be able to tell. BJP workers resorted to violence. They wanted the police to fire. But police showed restraint,” Roy said.

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