Kolkata Police on Friday lodged FIRs against senior BJP leaders at the Hastings and North Port police stations for unlawful assembly and damage to public properties during the party’s “March to Nabanna” the day before.
BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, MPs Arjun Singh and Locket Chatterjee, and national vice-president Mukul Roy were among the 24 people booked for unlawful assembly and damage to public properties. The police in Howrah district have filed a case against MP Saumitra Khan, who heads the BJP youth wing’s state unit, and other leaders.
Seven of the 24 named in the FIRs are among the 113 arrested in connection with the violence.
The police cases were registered a day after parts of the state capital and neighbouring Howrah resembled a battle zone as BJP workers clashed with the police after being stopped from marching to state secretariat Nabanna to protest against recent killings of a number of BJP workers. The march was organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
After being stopped, BJP workers hurled stones and bricks at police officials and set fire to tyres. There were also reports of crude bombs being hurled at policemen, but the BJP dismissed the claim.
The police used water cannons and batons, and fired teargas shells to beat back the protesters. Two of the party’s leaders, Arvind Menon and Raju Banerjee, were admitted to hospitals with injuries.
Reacting to the cases filed by the police, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the party would move court. “This is nothing new,” he added. “We have been fighting 30,000 false cases across the state. Since TMC is losing ground politically, it is using the police to stop the BJP. I condemn such action by police against our leaders in strong words. No democracy can survive like this.”
Mukul Roy said, “I have seen that those governments which depend too much on the police to fulfill their objective survive for a very short time. Our legal cell is looking into all these cases.”
According to the FIRs, the BJP leaders applied “criminal force” to the police personnel who formed the line of the security cordon. The Opposition party obstructed the normal flow of traffic and the movement of pedestrians, the police added, pointing out that Nabanna is a high security zone.
“They damaged government properties like iron guard rails, wooden shields, iron face shields. Seven accused persons named in FIRs have been arrested. Investigation is on,” said an official.
The cases have been lodged under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly committed in prosecution of the common object), 332 (whoever voluntarily causes hurt to any person being a public servant), 353 (assault on public servant), and 283 (danger or obstruction in public way); Section 51(b) of Disaster Management Act; and Section 3 of Prevention of Disruption to Public Property Act.
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