RED ROAD TURNS BATTLEGROUND

Left workers, cops injured in clashes during march to 'Nabanna'
Report by: 
Agencies
Kolkata
22 May 2017

Several Left party activists and police personnel were injured in clashes at various places in the city and neighbouring Howrah during their march to the state secretariat against the West Bengal government's policies.

The march to the secretariat in Howrah district was organised by the Left parties to protest against what they called attack on democracy, and unemployment and lawlessness in the state during Trinamool Congress (TMC) rule. The Left activists tried to break police cordons at various locations including Mayo Road, Dufferin road, Hastings in the city and Foreshore Road and Santragachi in Howrah. They allegedly hurled stones at the police prompting the force to fire tear gas shells and order lathi-charge. Water cannons were also used to disperse the workers at Santragachi in Howrah.

The police said that the Left workers were asked not to proceed towards the state secretariat. "But they did not listen to instructions and hurled stones at security personnel, in which several policemen were injured." The Left party sources on the other hand said many of their leaders including former state minister Kanti Ganguly, Foward Bloc leader Naren Chatterjee and a number of workers were injured when the police resorted to the "unprovoked batoncharge." Some journalists covering the programme were allegedly beaten up by the police. A senior police officer when asked about it said: "I was not there but we have received some complaints in this regard. We will look into it".

Earlier in the day at least 12 CPM leaders including three MLAs - Sujan Chakraborty, Ashok Bhattacharya and Tanmay Bhattacharjee were detained when they tried to enter the state secretariat ahead of the 'March to Nabanna' programme. The Left leaders headed for the secretariat from the assembly in three cars and had managed to cross the security cordons. The police, however, recognised them at the north gate of the secretariat and a scuffle took place between them there. The leaders were then detained and taken to Shibpur police station in Howrah.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was not present at the secretariat as she was in Birbhum district for an administrative meeting. CPM state secretary and politburo member Surjya Kanta Mishra and Left Front chairman Biman Bose staged a sit-in at Mayo Road in protest against the police action. Mishra said: "Everything is being done according to the chief minister's instruction. But they (the TMC government) cannot stop us this way. A protest day will be observed tomorrow throughout the state." TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee called the Left programme a "drama" and said it was nothing but an attempt by the CPM to justify its existence.

"The CPM has been reduced to a signboard," he said. "They (CPM) do not work for the state. Instead they are holding this programme when the chief minister is trying to develop the state," he said.