Clashes in Bengal’s Barrackpore as BJP enforces shutdown to protest attack on MP
Clashes were reported on Monday at several places under West Bengal’s Barrackpore parliamentary constituency during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 12-hour shutdown to protest an alleged attack on its member of Parliament Arjun Singh.
Supporters of the BJP and ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to blows in Subhasnagar and Barrackpore’s deputy commissioner of police Ajay Thakur was injured after stones were allegedly thrown at him in the morning in Nonachandanpukur area.
Thakur came under attack when strike supporters and police clashed as officials were trying to disperse the crowd blocking a road in the area.
Supporters of the BJP also erected roadblocks at Ichapore, Kankinara, Barrackpore and on National Highway 34 at Amdanga. The Kalyani Expressway was blocked at a couple of places in Panpur and Kairapur. In Shyamnagar, the BJP’s workers blocked the road leading to traffic snarls. Ferry services were also affected at Chuchura, Chandanagar, Naihati, Serampore and Barrackpore.
The opposition BJP has called for the dawn-to-dusk shutdown after Arjun Singh, the Barrackpore MP, and nine police officials were injured in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district in a clash between its supporters and the TMC on Sunday.
Singh, who was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata’s Salt Lake, has alleged that he was hit by Barrackpore police commissioner Manoj Verma. The police, however, have refuted Singh’s claim, saying that he was hit by a brick thrown by his supporters.
“The TMC is unleashing terror in the area. The ruling party’s leaders know they will be unseated and therefore they have become desperate,” said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the state unit of the BJP.
Earlier in the day, a number of shops did not open and the roads had thinner traffic than on other days as the opposition party enforced the shutdown from 6am. Some of the industrial units such as jute mills were also affected as workers did not report for work.
Supporters of the BJP blocked railway tracks at Kankinara, which is a part of the Barrackpore constituency, and erected roadblocks in several parts of the area.
There were some reports of BJP supporters asking shopkeepers to down the shutters their shops. Television channels also reported a few instances of shutdown supporters forcing commuters to get off auto-rickshaws in the town.
Officials said a large number of policemen have been deployed in different areas to control the law and order situation.
“If an MP has no security, what can common people expect? The administration is yet to arrest the actual culprits. The attack took place in front of the police,” BJP leader Anupam Hazra said.
Hazra, the former Trinamool Congress MP who contested the recently-concluded LS polls from Jadavpur constituency with a BJP ticket, said the shutdown is a symbolic protest against this culture of violence.
“If you are a worker of any party other than the ruling party, you are not safe in this state,” claimed Hazra.
The BJP’s working president JP Nadda on Monday tweeted his criticism of the alleged attack on Arjun Singh and his son Paban Singh, who is a legislator.
The BJP has also called for agitation in front of offices of superintendents of police in all the districts of the state to protest the attack on Singh. State-level BJP leaders are supposed to attend these agitations.
In some parts of the constituency, supporters of the ruling Trinamool tried to keep public life normal to foil the general strike.
North 24 Parganas district TMC leader and state minister Jyoti Priya Mallick accused Singh of lying.
“He asked his own men to injure his head and blamed the police,” remarked North 24 Parganas district TMC leader and minister Jyoti Priya Mallick.
Taking a jibe at the BJP MP, urban development minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim said on Monday, “I knew that Arjun Singh used to crack the heads of people. Who would crack his head?”
Barrackpore has witnessed frequent incidents of violence since the Lok Sabha elections when Singh, a former four-time legislator, switched to the BJP after he was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha, and defeated the TMC candidate.