BJP’s march to Lalbazar on Wednesday turned violent after party workers clashed with the police, forcing the latter to use tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the crowd from the area. Nearly 15 BJP workers, including party leaders Mukul Roy and Raju Banerjee, were injured during the clash.
As many as 10 injured party workers, including Banerjee, were admitted to a hospital. Roy’s condition was declared to be stable. To protest against the ongoing post-poll violence across Bengal, the BJP had planned a march from Wellington area to Lalbazar (city police headquarters). However, the march turned violent at several places, including BB Ganguly Street, GC Avenue and Bentinck Street, as BJP workers tried to push through the barricades put up by the police to prevent them from marching towards Lalbazar.
According to police, some BJP workers pelted them with bricks and stones, forcing them to retaliate with tear gas shells and water cannons. At BB Ganguly Street, the police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse the protesters, who were raising slogans.
“BJP workers tried to break the barricades and pelted us with bricks. We had to retaliate to stop them,” said a senior police officer of Kolkata Police. Over a 100 party workers were detained, but were immediately released after BJP leaders called off their protest.
The BJP leadership, however, claimed that none of the party workers were involved in stone pelting and alleged that police used tear gas shells and water cannons on a peaceful procession.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya along with party president Dilip Ghosh and other senior leaders held a sit-in demonstration at the Bowbazar-Central Avenue Crossing to protest against the police. Later, they withdrew their sit-in.
“This is unfortunate that the police used force against our workers for holding a peaceful rally. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has lost her mental balance due to the unprecedented growth of the BJP. She has resorted to politics of violence in order to save her chair. If such a situation continues, then the central government should take a call on what should be done or not,” said Vijayvargiya. West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh also slammed the police for resorting to violence.
“We were conducting a peaceful protest march, then why did the police get into unprovoked water cannon and tear gas shell firing? The TMC government is determined to create an atmosphere of violence and intimidation,” he said.
The Trinamool Congress said the BJP is trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the state. TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, “The BJP is trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the state by indulging in violent activities. Just because they have won a few seats doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want to. The people of Bengal will oppose any such attempt to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state.”