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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

March 30, 1980, Forty Years Ago: Bengal Clashes

This is the front page of The Indian Express published on March 30, 1980.

By: Editorial | Published: March 30, 2020 1:00:38 am
The Indian Express, Indian Express front page, Indian Express editorial, Indian Express columns, Indian Express archive This is the front page of The Indian Express published on March 30, 1980.

A violent clash between the police and the Chhatra Parishad (I) workers in Calcutta marked the Parishad’s “economic blockade” of Assam on the sixth day of the movement. About 300 parishad volunteers demonstrated before the Indian Airlines office in Chittaranjan Avenue in Calcutta, raising the slogan “stop all bookings to Assam”. After they had shouted slogans for two hours, the police sought to disperse them. Initially, appeals were made which fell on deaf ears. T h en suddenly, brickbats were thrown and the police had to resort to lathi-charge. The police fired six rounds of teargas shells and dispersed the gathering. Thirty demonstrators have been arrested.

Janata Confused

The two-day convention called by Jagjivan Ram began with amid confusion created by the declaration that it was the first representative convention of the Janata Party and assertions by several prominent leaders, including Arjan Singh Bhadoria that it was the foundation day function of a new party. Sitting on a lone chair on a huge dais in a big pandal that was three-fourths vacant, Jagjivan Ram spoke, saying that while the May 1977 convention was of the supporters of the Janata Party, this was the first session of the party. Only two MPs — Satyadeo Singh of the Lok Sabha and Ganpat Bhagat of the Rajya Sabha — were present among the 1,000-odd delegates at the beginning of the convention.

Arafat’s Concern

Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, voiced the concern of the Arab countries over American presence in Persian Gulf area. Answering questions at a press conference in New Delhi, he said: “All this troop massing constitutes a danger and directly affects the Palestinian cause and the security of Arab nations.” He said that India’s diplomatic recognition of the PLO “will help our struggle for self-determination and liberation”. Arafat also said that he did not discuss with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the issue of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

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