A major clash broke out between the police and BJP workers in Esplandade area on Wednesday, after the latter organised a march to Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) office to protest against high electricity tariff in Kolkata. Several BJP workers and policemen were injured in the clash.
The BJP workers took out the march from the state BJP headquarters to the head office of CESC Limited, the private power generation and distribution utility.
The police had erected three layers of barricade to prevent the movement of the protesters. As BJP workers tried to break the barricades in CR Avenue, policemen resorted to lathicharge and used water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse the protesters.
“Nearly 50 of our supporters were injured during the protest. We wanted to hold a peaceful agitation but the government did not allow it. There was no provocation from our side. Police have mercilessly used batons,” said state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu.
Another BJP leader, Raju Banerjee, said: “Tear gas shells and water cannons were used against us. The police attacked us even when we were trying to demonstrate peacefully. We were protesting against the high power tariff in Kolkata. Is the state government getting a share from CESC for this? We want the power tariff to be at par with other cities.”
BJP leader Debjit Sarkar said they had wanted to submit a deputation to the CESC authorities, protesting against the high tariffs.
The police said six officers were injured during the clash. “Our men were injured after the protesters turned unruly and a clash broke out,” a senior police officer said.
The Trinamool Congress, however, slammed the BJP for disrupting the traffic movement in the heart of the city. “Their party runs with the help of money from Ambani and Adani. Now they are accusing us of taking money from CESC. How have they built a seven-star party office in Delhi? They should stop saying baseless things. They only wanted to create a chaos in the city and disrupt traffic movement,” said TMC leader Tapas Roy.
Late in the evening, the TMC put up a statement in its official Twitter handle where it said, “Over the last six years, the best-quality power supply is being provided to the entire state without increasing any tariff. Keeping in mind agriculture, industry and other issues and to reduce people’s burden, the state government is providing approximately Rs 1,000 crore subsidy every year. As per Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s direction, subsidy is being offered to those whose consumption is less than 300 units. To boost agriculture, government is giving subsidy to farmers. The electricity tariff is determined by the Electricity Regulatory Commission, which is an independent and autonomous body. The state government has no role to play. This means that the state government do not determine the electricity tariff in areas where electricity is supplied by a private company.”