Police Use Water Cannons, Tear Gas on BJP Protesters in Kolkata
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s protest against the Mamata Banerjee government turned violent when Kolkata Police baton-charged the workers on Wednesday, 12 June.
Following the escalation of violence in the state, Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Wednesday called all four key political parties – TMC, BJP, Congress and CPI(M) – of the state for a meeting on Thursday, in an attempt to calm down the situation.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CLASHES
- The agitators started the rally from Central Kolkata's Subodh Mullick Square and broke a barricade at Ganesh Chandra Avenue, close to 200 meters from entry gate of Lalbazar.
- Police fired two water cannons to disperse them. The Rapid Action Force personnel lobbed tear gas shells at the rallyists and resorted to minor baton charge at the Central Avenue to stop them from re-organising the rally.
- In retaliation, the saffron party workers raised slogans and hurled stones and bottles at the officers, reported PTI. However, the BJP leadership has denied any such reports.
- Some of the party workers were seen holding a sit-in demonstration in the area in protest.
- Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy and state BJP general secretary Raju Banerjee were injured during the clashes, the state leadership said.
- Banerjee was admitted to a nearby hospital while Roy was taken to the party office. His condition is stated to be stable.
- Earlier in the day, three members of BJP's women wing (Mahila Morcha) were arrested for demonstrating in front of Lalbazar, reported IANS.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT BJP’S PROTEST MARCH
- The protest was against the alleged killing of BJP workers and breakdown of the law and order situation in the state.
- The saffron party workers, along with 18 newly elected MPs in the state, including BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, were part of the protest march.
- Bengal's BJP minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior party leader Mukul Roy had also joined the march.
- Roy on Tuesday, 11 June, had blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the clashes in North 24 Parganas' Sandeshkhali on Saturday that claimed three lives, and demanded an investigation into the violence by anti-terror probe agency NIA.
- Banerjee had earlier accused the BJP of "spreading false information as part of a game plan to topple her government".
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT IT
- BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said. “West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has lost her mental balance due to the unprecedented growth of the BJP. She has resorted to politics of violence in order to save her chair. If such a situation continues then the central government should take a call on what should be done or not.”
- BJP State President Dilip Ghosh said, “We were conducting a peaceful protest march, then why did the police get into unprovoked water cannon and tear gas shell firing? The TMC government is determined to create an atmosphere of violence and intimidation.”
- TMC secretary general and senior minister Partha Chaterjee said, “The BJP is trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state. Just because they have won few seats doesn't mean they can do what ever they want to. The people of Bengal will oppose any attempt to vitiate the atmosphere of the state.”