BJP’s Lalbazar march turns violent

Report by: 
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
Kolkata
25 May 2017

At a time when both prime minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Mamata Banerjee had a one-on-one meeting in Delhi today,  hundreds of cadres of the state unit of BJP fought pitched battles with the Kolkata police during its Lalbazar siege programme. Around 50 people including 20 police personnel were injured in the clashes that took place around Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters. In all 141 persons were arrested by the police. ``We will book those who instigated the violence under non-bailable sections,'' Joint CP Suprotim Sarker said at a media conference at Lalbazar in the evening.. 
Incidentally the programme which by and large disrupted normal life in central Kolkata was called by the BJP to protest against, among other issues,  alleged deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
While the agitationists who made several attempts by taking different routes and breaking barricades set up by the police to reach the gates of Lalbazar, also  hurled bombs and pelted stones at the police personnel  who resorted to lathicharge, burst tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. And while one police jeep was burnt near Jorashanko, three other government vehicles were also damaged by the agitating mob.
The police even went inside the BJP state headquarters at Muralidhar Lane which is near Lalbazar and beat up BJP cadres. They also went inside the Central Metro station and beat up BJP supporters there.
Senior BJP leaders including Kailash Vijayvargiya, party general secretary in charge of West Bengal, state president Dilip Ghosh, MP Roopa Ganguly, state secretary Locket Chatterjee who led the rallies were arrested.
Media persons covering the agitation were given yellow jackets to wear by the police. This was to identify them easily so that the incidents of May 22, in which journalists were beaten up by the police during the left-sponsored march to state secretariat, would not recur.
``Petrol bombs were hurled by the mob. They vandalised property at Central Police station and some of them hurled stones from inside the BJP office. However the police exercised utmost restraint and played a very positive role in containing the agitation,'' Suprotim Sarker further said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had her meeting with the prime minister called the agitation absolute hooliganism aimed at stalling the progress of the state.
``There is no reason for organising such a programme as they have no issue. Do the Opposition leaders have issues like Saharanpur ? I do not think so. One police van was burnt by the BJP supporters and women police were beaten up by the BJP supporters. Government properties were vandalised . I have got all the videos and I can show it to you," she told media persons in Delhi.
According to her, by staging these kind of demonstrations, both the CPIM and the BJP were trying to grab No 2 or No 3 position in the state. `` "They are not following democratic  norms to organise this kind of rallies. They should remember that hooliganism or madness can not replace democratic norms,'' Mamata said.
A delegation from the BJP  met Governor Keshri Nath Tripathy in the evening and apprised him of the situation.
Meanwhile the BJP which demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident said  the police unleashed a reign of terror on peaceful demonstrators. The way our party workers were are beaten up by police,  we demand a judicial inquiry into  the matter,'' Rahul Sinha, party general secretary said.
Rupa Ganguly, MP wondered why such a huge police arrangement was made for the rally. ``We came here to submit a memorandum to the police. But they beat us up without provocation,'' Ganguly said.