Police had to resort to mild lathicharge to disperse BJP supporters and Jadavpur University (JU) students who entered into a scuffle as their separate rallies came face-to-face near Sulekha crossing in South Kolkata on Monday.
While the JU students, led by Left-affiliated SFI and AISA, took out a rally from 8B bus stand protesting the attack on their JNU counterparts and teachers in Delhi on Sunday, the BJP march was taken out from Bagha Jatin More to Jadavpur police station over ransacking of its party office in the area on Sunday night.
Police put up barricades and blocked both the rallies, however, both the JU students and BJP supporters alleged that slogans and counter-slogans were raised and stones thrown at each other.
As both the rallies came face to face, another rally by the CPI(M) also reached the Sulekha crossing, increasing the JU support base, but intensifying the stir.
Some members from both the parties managed to break the police barricades and entered into a scuffle with each other.
After repeated attempts to calm the situation, police officials said they had to charge batons to disperse the rallyists.
Sudip Sarkar, DC (SSD) of Kolkata Police, said there was a misunderstanding. “We had no intention to use batons on them. There was some lathicharge only when we were chasing the BJP workers in a bid to disperse them from the spot. During this, some students were caught up in the scene and got beaten up.”
The JU students, however, demanded an apology from the police for using batons on them and put up a road blockade. “We have been beaten up without any reason. The BJP workers threw stones at us and we only protested. The police stopped us and even used batons on girl students. We want an apology from them,” said a JU student.
The students finally lifted their protest late in the evening and held an agitation outside Jadavpur police station.
BJP leader Anupam Hazra, who led the saffron rally, said they wanted to go to the 8B bus stand in Jadavpur. “The police stopped us near Sulekha crossing. The JU students came from the other side and were stopped as well. But they kept inciting our workers by shouting slogans. We had taken out this rally to protest against the vandalism at our party office in Jadavpur. We will not tolerate this hooliganism.”
The SFI took out 14 rallies from as many places and demanded strong action against those responsible for the attack. The biggest rally by SFI members were taken out from College Street to Jorasanko in North Kolkata.
Apart from the JU students, Presidency University and Calcutta University students also took out separate protest rallies, shouting slogans against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, accusing them of the violence.
Students of Presidency University took out the rally from its College Street campus, however, police stopped them as well midway to the state BJP headquarters in Central Kolkata. To mark their protest then, the students burnt an effigy of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“We wanted to ask the BJP leaders why such an attack was orchestrated on the JNU students. But, police did not allow us. We will not tolerate such kind of attack inside a university campus. It shows that we the students are not safe,” said a student.
“Yesterday (Sunday) was the darkest day in Indian democracy because of what happened inside the JNU campus. Beating up of students and teachers by goons and attacking girls’ hostel by the ABVP brought shame to our democracy,” a JU student said.
With PTI inputs
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