The youth and student wings of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) clashed with the West Bengal Police near the state secertariat in the city of Howrah on Friday during a protest rally demanding jobs, education and industries, PTI reported.

The Students’ Federation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India had started the rally from Singur, the location of an abandoned Tata Nano car factory, on Thursday.

The protest march was supposed to end at the state secretariat, Nabanna, on Friday but was halted five kilometres away near Mullick Ghat. Soon, an altercation broke out between the police and the protestors after the latter allegedly threw bricks at the law-enforcement officials. The police then responded with tear-gas shells and charged the demonstrators with batons.

“We were told by the police that five of our representatives would be allowed to go to Nabanna to submit a deputation,” PTI quoted DYFI state Secretary Sayandeep Mitra as saying. “But as soon as our peaceful rally reached Mullick Ghat, police resorted to unprovoked lathi charge and tear-gas shell firing.” Several protestors also became unconscious during the clash, Mitra claimed.

The demonstrators were planning to submit thousands of job applications to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee under her “Didi ke bolo [Tell Didi]” outreach programme. Mitra accused the chief minister of failing to bring about economic development of the state. Businesses were not investing despite multiple business summits in the last few years, and lakhs of youth were unemployed, he added.

State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee denied the charges and said the protestors were trying to disrupt the “peaceful atmosphere” in West Bengal.

Singur made headlines in 2008 after Tata pulled the plug on its Nano car project following protests by the Trinamool Congress, which was then in Opposition. While the company had made extensive promises, the compensation offered to those displaced was considered inadequate. The Trinamool Congress unseated the Left Front and came to power in 2011 on the back of its popularity following the Singur and Nandigram agitations.

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