A number of BJP workers and policemen were injured and a police vehicle was torched as parts of central Kolkata resembled a war zone with security forces using water canons and batons and lobbying tear gas shells on the activists who also hurled bricks during a protest march here on Thursday.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, party MP Rupa Ganguly and former Kolkata Deputy Mayor Meena Devi Purohit were arrested after the party workers led by them broke barricades while trying to march to the city police headquarters Lalbazar.
The police used drones to keep a tab on the movement of the protesters.
Actress-turned-BJP leader Ganguly fell ill after scuffling and jostling with the police personnel who faced a torrid time in reining in the rampaging Bharatiya Janata Party workers.
Another actress-turned-political activist Locket Chatterjee had to be taken to the Kolkata Medical College for treatment.
A police vehicle was torched and another government vehicle damaged on B.B. Ganguly Street close to Lalbazar. A substantial number of police personnel also sustained injuries from the missiles hurled at them.
There were allegations that the activists had thrown bombs which injured policemen, but BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha denied it.
“Police are trying to mislead everybody by claiming bombs were hurled, while actually it was only the sound of tear gas shells lobbed by the police,” said Sinha, who also sustained injuries and was arrested.
Shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Vande Mataram’, the BJP supporters assembled in large numbers at three points — Dharmatala Y channel in central Kolkata, Howrah station and College Square in the northern part of the city, where rallies began around 1 pm.
Ghosh, who led a large procession from Howrah, was arrested from Brabourne Road, where police used water canons, batons and tear gas to disperse the mob.
However, even before the march formally started, a group of BJP workers surprised the police by suddenly arriving near Lalbazar in a private bus.
Around 20 Bharatiya Janata Party activists from Nadia district’s Haringhata, travelling in a private bus, reached B.B. Ganguly street crossing near Lalbazar.
But they were immediately intercepted and detained.
BJP state Vice President Jay Prakash Majumdar alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had lost control of the state administration and claimed the government was actually being run by the police.
“Banerjee has no control over law and order. Some senior police and IAS officers are running this government and Mamata is sitting at the helm without any power,” Majumdar said.
“This government has no idea how to control a democratic movement.”
Lalbazar, situated in central Kolkata, was turned into a fortress since the morning. Police personnel were deployed near three major interception points at Phears lane, Tea Board of India office and Bentinck Street connector to stop the rallies.
Barricades, guard rails, and around 2,000 heavily armed personnel, including combat forces, Rapid Action Force and commandos, were deployed to check any untoward incident.
Thursday’s protest came only three days after the Left peasant unions’ “March to Nabanna” (state secretariat) that left nearly 200 — protesters and police — injured.