Several people were injured as workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clashed with Samajwadi Party supporters who were protesting the steep hike in rail fares in the Uttar Pradesh capital on Saturday.
The rail passenger fares were increased by the Narendra Modi-led BJP on Friday by 14.2% and freight rates by 6.5%, the steepest in the past 15 years.
The two sides hurled stones at each other outside the BJP’s UP headquarters after the SP workers burnt an effigy of Modi during the protests. At least half a dozen people, including a policeman, sustained injuries in the clash.
Read: New govt defends steep rail fare hike; protests erupt
The BJP has been attacking the SP-ruled government over law and order in the UP assembly for the past two days. The SP retaliated by attacking the BJP government over the “anti-people” rail fare hike which comes into effect beginning June 25.
Following the protest outside the BJP office, youth wing workers of the saffron party trickled onto the street and clashed with the SP supporters. The SP workers engaged in a melee, causing chaos on the Vidhan Sabha Road as traffic was blocked.
The situation was brought under controlled only after heavy police deployment in the area.
Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai later staged a sit-in at the office of the Lucknow senior superintendent of police. He accused the police of inciting the violence and said the Lucknow administration remained mute spectators to the vandalism of the ruling party workers.
“We will raise a demand for the SSP's removal. The district magistrate's phone was found to be switched off when called,” Bajpai said.
“It was an unprovoked attack; one which shows how the SP cadre has taken the law into its own hands under the present regime,” he added.
The two parties have been at loggerheads after the Samajwadi Party, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, fell behind the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP and its Apna Dal ally won 73 of the 80 seats in the state. The SP could secure only five seats.