February 12, 2021 6:26:04 am
Around 150 protesters and 15 policemen were injured after Left and Congress activists were prevented from reaching the Nabanna state secretariat in Howrah, resulting in clashes at several places in Kolkata. The police said 42 protesters were arrested and another 38 hospitalised.
Calling the police action “excessive”, Left Front Chairman Biman Basu, on behalf of the Left and Congress, decided to hold a 12-hour statewide strike on Friday.
Led by youth and student wings of both parties, the march towards Nabanna was aimed to highlight education for all and lack of jobs, and protest the “anti-farmer” stance of the BJP-led Central government.
The rallies originated from Sealdah , Howrah Railway Station, Hedua and College Street before merging at Rani Rashmoni Avenue. After walking 3 km, the protesters were stopped from all sides.
Most injuries were reported from Kolkata’s Dorina Crossing which resembled a battleground. As the protesters tried to remove the barricades, the police lathicharged them, sprayed water canons and fired tear gas shells. Ambulances were seen transporting the injured. Among the injured was also Sayandip Mitra, state secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), CPM’s youth wing.
To prevent the protesters from reaching Nabanna, the police had earlier barricaded six entry points to Howrah – Howrah Rail Museum, Banstala Ghat, Fersore Road, Mallik Fatak, Betar Mor and Lakshminarayan Tala.
The police allowed the protesters to march up to Dufferin Road in Kolkata — an offer declined by the Left and the Congress.
Earlier in the day, eight DYFI members and CPM MLA Ibrahim Ali were arrested from Nabanna when they tried to enter the building. The march was the culmination of a month-long campaign by DYFI, SFI and other Left organisations across the state demanding jobs and industrialisation.
On Thursday, DYFI members conducted a symbolic inauguration of Singur and Shalboni projects.
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