Kolkata braces for protests by Left, anti-NRC group during PM Modi’s visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Kolkata on Saturday and Sunday.
Left parties have announced an agitation along route Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take in Kolkata for his engagements.(ANI File Photo)
Left parties have announced an agitation along route Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take in Kolkata for his engagements.(ANI File Photo)
Published on Jan 08, 2020 11:13 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | BySnigdhendu Bhattacharya

Kolkata is bracing for a weekend of protests when Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in the city to attend three government events on Saturday and Sunday. This will be Modi’s first visit to Kolkata after taking oath for the second time as Prime Minister.

While Left parties have announced an agitation along Modi’s route and some are planning to block roads, a group named ‘No NRC Movement’ has plans to gherao the Kolkata airport and also the spot in the Maidan area where Modi’s chopper will land after carrying him from the airport. The main event Modi will attend is the 150th year celebration of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) at Netaji Indoor Stadium on January 12.

“Kolkata will be on the streets on Saturday. If the situation requires protesters to stay on the streets all night, they will do so. ‘Modi go back’ is the only slogan on Saturday, unless the Prime Minister cancels his trip,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Md Salim.

Other Left parties that have planned agitations on Saturday include Communist Party of India, Forward Block, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and Revolutionary Socialist Party. Student organisations will also hit the streets.

“There will be gherao of the airport in case he plans to come to the city from the airport by road. If he takes a helicopter ride to the Maidan agitators will be there as well,” said Biplab Bhattacharya, one of the organisers of No NRC movement.

Subhankar Sinha Sarkar, joint commissioner of Kolkata Police, did not respond to queries HT sent via text messages. He was asked if the police were aware of the protest plans and special security arrangements were being planned.

No NRC Movement is an umbrella of various socio-political and rights organizations that have come to prominence over the past two months. It was this group that first started building pressure on the Mamata Banerjee government to stop the work of NPR (National Population Register) and eventually forced the government to suspend the exercise.

According to Modi’s itinerary available with the state police and KoPT officials, after landing at Maidan in the heart of Kolkata, he will go to central and west Kolkata for two events and then go to Howrah district to visit Belur Math. He will stay at night at Raj Bhavan. The trips in the city and Howrah will involve 20-km travel.

The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT)’s 150th-year celebration is scheduled on Sunday. On Saturday evening, the PM will inaugurate a Centre-run art museum and the light and sound system at Howrah Bridge.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is also an invitee at the KoPT event but Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders said on Wednesday that the chief minister is yet to decide whether she will attend the event.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit president Dilip Ghosh said that the party has not planned any programme. “The Left’s strike on Wednesday has failed because the state administration opposed it. It needs to be seen whether the state administration on Saturday allows the Left to create chaos,” Ghosh said.

TMC leaders remained tight-lipped on the planned protests, saying the chief minister is monitoring the situation and will advise the police.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021