Left workers, police clash in Calcutta during protest march to state secretariat at Howrah
Workers of Left parties on Monday clashed with police determined to foil their protest march to the state secretariat in Howrah on the other side of the river Hooghly.
Television channels showed large contingents of city police backed by Rapid Action Force using batons freely to disperse Left workers as well as bystanders caught in the fray.
Police used water cannons and tear gas as Left workers tried to breach the barricades put up in the Maidan area to prevent them from reaching the Trinamool government’s secretariat by using Vidyasagar Setu, the 2nd Hooghly bridge.
At Nabanna, secretariat, a dozen leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), including three members of the legislative assembly, were detained and taken to a police station when they tried to enter the building and were spotted.
The Left workers and police fought pitched battles on Mayo Road, Dufferin Road, and Hastings in the Maidan area, a large patch of green in the heart of Calcutta that is also home to Fort William, the headquarters of the army’s Eastern Command.
Barricades had been put up at different points in the Maidan, and at the Santragachi approach to Nabanna on the other side of the river.
The MLAs detained were Sujan Chakraborty, Ashok Bhattacharya and Tanmay Bhattacharjee. They had left for Nabanna in separate cars much before the protesters assembled in Calcutta, and had crossed the security cordons when the police recognised them.
They were intercepted after a scuffle and taken to Shipur police station in Howrah.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not present at the secretariat as she was in Birbhum district for an administrative meeting. (Agencies)
The police resorted to lathi-charge when the left leaders tried to move into the premises of the state secretariat. Biman Basu, left front chairman, Kanti Ganguly were among those injured. Apart from the leaders, the cadres and supporters of the party were also injured. Allegations have been raised that the police resorted to lathi-charge without taking into account the presence of women. It has also been accused that lathi, tear gas, water cannons were the measures used to disperse the rally. On the other hand accusations have also been raised that stones were pelted at the police and as its result, several police officers were also injured. Several journalists were also reportedly injured.
Since the beginning of the day, chaos took place around Nabanna hours before the left’s schedule protest march to protest against measures taken by the government. 22 MLAs including Sujan Chakraborty, Tanmay Bhattacharya were arrested for trying to forcefully enter Nabanna. The CPM party demanded the immediate release of the party members without any conditions. As the news spread, the party followers began protesting. The police stopped the rally much before it reached Nabanna. This led to a scuffle between the police and the left party followers. Chaos broke out at Duffrin road, Mayo road and Shibpur area.
The police resorted to lathi charge the moment the left party members tried breaking the barricades, tried to cross over the guard rails. The police also used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the mob. The left supporters resorted to stone pelting in return.
The left front government called for a protest march to Nabanna to protest against the corruption-tainted leaders and ministers, unemployment factor in the state and the imbalance in the price of the farmers’ productions among 14 problems stated. Party supporters took part in the rally from 5 districts including Kolkata and Nabanna.