Eight BJP workers were admitted to hospital and senior party leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy suffered minor injuries after the motorcade of the BJP national president J P Nadda was attacked with stones and sticks, allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters, outside Kolkata on Thursday afternoon.
Several cars in the convoy, which was headed to Diamond Harbour, the Lok Sabha constituency of Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were damaged.
The vehicles of Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary; Roy, national vice president; Dilip Ghosh, state president; and Anupam Hazra, national secretary, had their windscreens smashed in the attack. Several BJP workers and security personnel suffered injuries.
Nadda, who was travelling in a bulletproof vehicle, was not hurt. Lawlessness and anarchy ruled in West Bengal, he said after the incident.
In the evening, the Centre sought a report on the attack from the West Bengal government, and a separate report from the Governor on the law and order situation in the state.
“The scenes I saw while coming here show that under Mamata Banerjee anarchy rules in Bengal. We were able to reach here because of the blessings of Ma Durga. It is a state of lawlessness. TMC workers left no stone unturned to try and throttle democracy. This is goonda raj,” Nadda told party workers in Diamond Harbour.
“I had a bulletproof car. But almost all other cars were damaged. Kailash Vijayvargiya has a fracture in his hand. Other leaders’ cars were smashed. Our 50 workers on motorbikes were beaten up and their vehicles snatched. Eight of them are in the hospital,” he said.
Asked at a press conference in the evening whether he believed it was time for President’s Rule in West Bengal, given that BJP leaders have made such demands earlier, Nadda said: “The incident was an example of anarchy, lawlessness, and intolerance. Administration has crumbled. It speaks volumes of the mentality of Mamata Banerjee. Will there be no political debate in Bengal? But we will end the rule of Mamata Banerjee in a democratic way.”
The Chief Minister herself described the incident as “small” and “planned”, and said the police would investigate. West Bengal Police said on its official Twitter handle that Nadda had reached his destination safely, and that “nothing happened” to his convoy.
The incident took place near Sirakol in South 24-Parganas district, about 30 km from Kolkata. TMC workers had gathered in groups to protest against the three farm laws. As Nadda’s convoy approached, men on both sides of the narrow road holding TMC flags threw stones at the vehicles, and rained sticks on them, eyewitnesses said. BJP workers who were riding alongside on motorcycles were roughed up.
“Trinamool workers with party flags and armed with lathis attacked our convoy at multiple places. Stones and bricks were thrown by TMC workers. A number of cars have been damaged. Police were standing like mute spectators,” Dilip Ghosh said.
WATCH | Stones hurled at vehicle of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in West Bengal pic.twitter.com/TORSzQwjUz
West Bengal Police tweeted: “Shri J P Nadda… reached safely at the venue, Diamond Harbour… Nothing happened to his convoy. Few bystanders at Debipur, Falta PS, Diamond Harbor PD, sporadically and suddenly threw stones towards vehicles trailing long behind his convoy. Everyone is safe and the situation is peaceful. Matter is being investigated to find out actual happenings.”
Speaking at a dharna against the farm laws in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee said the BJP had no issues to raise and was therefore enacting drama.
“There was a small incident but I ask why were there 50 cars in the convoy? When we travel, we have just three cars. Why did they go there with a 50-car convoy, apart from 30 press vehicles and 40 motorbikes?” she said.
“I have told them (the BJP) many times not to interfere with the subject of law and order. But they ignored me. They used central forces for their security. They chose to be escorted by CISF, BSF. Even then how did they face an attack? We had a programme in Sirakol, but we changed our timing. Something happened, and immediately they started to telecast it. Was it planned? I have told the police to carry out a proper inquiry,” she said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed serious concern over the incident. “The attack on BJP President J P Nadda is condemnable. It can’t be condemned enough. The Centre has taken this attack very seriously. The West Bengal government will have to answer the people of the state for this sponsored violence,” Shah said in a tweet.
In another tweet, he said, “Under the Trinamool government, Bengal has slipped into the era of atrocity, anarchy and darkness. Under TMC’s reign, the way political violence has been institutionalised and taken to its height, it is both saddening and concerning for those who believe in democratic values.”
Sources in the Home Ministry said Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to the chief secretary of West Bengal expressing concern over the incident and sought a detailed report. “The home secretary has emphasised that the BJP president is a Z-category protectee and such an attack on his convoy is a serious security lapse. A detailed report has been sought,” a Home Ministry official said.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, from whom the Centre has sought a separate report, posted on Twitter: “Concerned at alarming reports of anarchy and lawlessness @MamataOfficial indicating ruling party harmads on rampage at BJP President Convoy and political police @WBPolice in support. This happening in spite of my alerts to CS and DGP early morning indicated collapse of law and order.”
On the second day of his two-day visit to West Bengal, Nadda held meetings with party workers and members of the fishermen community. He told party workers that “Parivartan has already taken place in Bengal”, and “people have turned away from Mamata Banerjee”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines