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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Left’s ‘March to Nabanna’: 100 Left workers, 69 cops hurt in clash

Fascist-like attack, brutal atrocities, says CPM; Desperate attempt to prove existence in state politics, retorts TMC.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata |
May 23, 2017 12:25:37 am
march to nabanna, left workewrs, cpm, west bengal, cm, chief minister, mamata banerjee, west ebngal cm, west bengal chief minister, west bengal police, bengal police, tmc, trinamool congress, india news, indian express news A Left supporter beats up a police officer on Monday. Express

OVER 100 Left Front workers and 69 policemen were injured as both clashed at various places in Kolkata and Howrah during a ‘March to Nabanna’ programme on Monday. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not present at Nabanna, the Secretariat, as she was in Birbhum for an administrative meeting.

The ‘March to Nabanna’ call was given by CPM’s peasant’s wing, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The farmer’s wings of other Left parties, along with CPM and other Left constituents, had joined the protest. According to PTI, police said the Left workers were asked not to proceed towards Nabanna.

The day started with Left workers taking out rallies from Rani Rashmoni Avenue, PTS crossing, Hastings near Kidderpore in Kolkata and from Santragachi and Howrah Rail Museum in Howrah district. To stop these workers from reaching Nabanna, police had come up with a three-tier security arrangement.

As the workers broke the first two barricades and tried to break the third one, some pelted stones at the policemen, who threw them back at the agitators. Soon, with the help of sticks and bamboos, Left workers broke the third barricade. The police retaliated by firing tear gas shells and resorting to lathicharging the workers, including women.
Such clashes broke out on Dufferin Road, Hastings Crossing, PTS crossing and Foreshore Road in Howrah. In Howrah, policemen used water cannons to disperse protesters. The agitation, which began at 1 pm, continued till around 5 pm.

Senior CPM leader Kanti Ganguly, who sustained injuries at PTS crossing, said: “Police beat me with sticks. I am in severe pain now.”

Most of the injured Left workers were taken to SSKM Hospital and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for treatment. While a number of them required stitches, a few also underwent surgeries, said officials.

As many as 13 media persons, who were covering the incident, were also beaten up, some of whom had to be hospitalised. Many accused Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Aparajita Rai for leading the attack on the media persons. The Kolkata Press Club, while condemning the attack, said media persons would take out a rally on Tuesday to mark their protest.

Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Headquarters) Supratim Sarkar said: “During today’s programme, 69 policemen, including women and senior officers, were injured. About 180 Left workers were arrested and more than 100 workers injured. A probe is on.”

Condemning the attack on the media persons, he said: “The attack on media persons is unwarranted. It is unfortunate and condemnable. We have got complaints that some policemen attacked media persons. We will definitely take action against them after identifying them. We will initiate departmental action against them.”

The Left, meanwhile, claimed that over 500 of its workers were arrested and around 250 sustained injuries. Later, PTI reported that the CPM Politburo has claimed that over 900 protesters were “grievously” injured in the attack. More than 100 of the wounded are in “critical” condition, it added.

To condemn the incident, CPM has given a call to observe ‘Protest Day’ across the state on Tuesday.

“We believe our programme was successful. Lakhs of workers participated in it. Scared to see such a massive turnout, the state government used the police to build a resistance. It was a fascist-like attack. Despite such brutal atrocities on us, no one fled. They fought tooth and nail,” said state CPM secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

With news channels showing footage of the clashes, Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Abdul Mannan reached the Dufferin Road-Mayo Road crossing to meet Left leaders and workers. As soon as he arrived, police again lathicharged Left workers. Biman Bose and more than a dozen media persons were injured.

Demanding an apology from Mamata government, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “Out of 250 workers who were injured, more than a hundred are serious. We saw on television how mercilessly they were beaten up. Protests will continue, but first, the state government must apologise for today’s incident and order a probe to identify the policemen who lathicharged women workers. The rule does not allow a male policemen to beat up women.”

Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee described the incident as the Left’s desperate attempt to prove its existence in Bengal politics. “The Left is in distress and that’s why it is making such efforts to prove its existence. It is a new drama. We have received reports that Left workers first pelted stones at police. They (police) showed patience. But if they are attacked, they have the right to self-defence,” he said.

Before the agitation began in the afternoon, several Left MLAs, including Left Front Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty, were detained by police when they went to Nabanna. A scuffle ensued between the MLAs and the policemen at Nabanna’s north gate when the Left leaders refused to disperse. Later, all 21 Left MLAs present there were detained and taken to Shibpur Police Lines in Howrah.

“Twenty of our MLAs had reached the gate of Nabanna to protest against unemployment, farmers’ distress and other issues. We had the legitimate and constitutional right to go to Nabanna. But the police did not let us in. They forcefully stopped us and later put us in police vans. They did not disclose whether we were in police custody or not. They awaited instructions from the chief minister,” Chakraborty said.

They awaited instructions from the chief minister,” Chakraborty said.

The MLAs were let off after over eight hours. State DGP Surajit Kar Pukayastha later sought a report from the police on how the MLAs managed to reach Nabanna.

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