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Tear gas fired during BJP protest in Kolkata; party workers, cops injured

Police used drones to keep a tab on the movement of the protesters

IANS  |  Kolkata 

Police baton charge BJP activists during their proposed rally 'March to Lalbazar (Kolkata police headquarters)', to press for their various demands, in Kolkata
Police baton charge BJP activists during their proposed rally 'March to Lalbazar (Kolkata police headquarters)', to press for their various demands, in Kolkata

A number of workers and were injured and a police vehicle was torched as parts of central resembled a 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 leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, state chief Dilip Ghosh, party MP and former 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.

Rupa Ganguly
Actress-turned politician and BJP Rajya Sabha MP during the party's proposed rally 'March to Lalbazar (police headquarters)', to press for their various demands

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 BB 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 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 p.m.

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 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.

First Published: Thu, May 25 2017. 18:18 IST