The Bharatiya Janata Party’s protest march to the Kolkata Police headquarters in the city’s Lalbazar area turned violent on Wednesday as the party workers clashed with the police, IANS reported. The police used water cannons and baton-charged the demonstrators when they tried to break barricades at Central Avenue and threw stones and bricks at the police, according to Anandabazar Patrika. BJP leader Raju Bandyopadhyay reportedly fell ill during the rally.
The march began around noon at Subodh Mullick Square in Central Kolkata and moved towards Lalbazar from different directions. According to ABP Ananda, Rapid Action Police personnel have been deployed and drones are being used to keep a tab on protestors. “Barricades have been put up at all the important junctures across the nine possible entry points to Lalbazar,” said a senior officer. Lalbazar has been turned into a fortress, with a three-ring security cover in place, reports added.
The BJP leaders announced the protest march after at least three of its leaders were killed in violence in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district last week. Following a scuffle between BJP workers and the state police, the Centre sent an advisory to the West Bengal government, expressing deep concern over the state of affairs. The BJP observed a “black day” across the state on Monday to protest the killings of its workers. The party also declared a 12-hour bandh in Basirhat.
Since Monday night, at least three people have been killed in the state while, according to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, 10 people have died in violence since the declaration of Lok Sabha election results.
“While the whole state is burning, Mamata Banerjee is unveiling statues,” BJP leader Sayantan Basu told Anandabazar Patrika at Wednesday’s protest march. The chief minister installed a new bust of 19th-century Bengali reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at a college in Kolkata, where the old bust was vandalised last month in clashes between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has called an all-party meeting on Thursday in the wake of increasing violence in the state. Tripathi has asked Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee, state BJP President Dilip Ghosh, the Congress’s Soumen Mitra, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty to attend the meeting, News18 reported.
On June 10, Tripathi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi to apprise them of the situation in the state. Mamata Banerjee criticised the governor on Tuesday, saying “every post has its constitutional limit”.