11 held after BJP, Trinamool Congress supporters clash in Bengal
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11 held after BJP, Trinamool Congress supporters clash in Bengal

Eleven people were arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in the clashes that broke out between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in West Bengal’s Contai on Tuesday, shortly after a rally addressed by BJP president Amit Shah.

kolkata Updated: Jan 30, 2019 23:12 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Midnapore/Kolkata
BJP,Trinamool Congress,Bengal
At least 15 people were injured, dozens of buses and two-wheelers wrecked, and two TMC offices ransacked in the vandalism and arson that lasted several hours in the East Midnapore town, about 150 km from Kolkata. (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Eleven people were arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in the clashes that broke out between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in West Bengal’s Contai on Tuesday, shortly after a rally addressed by BJP president Amit Shah.

At least 15 people were injured, dozens of buses and two-wheelers wrecked, and two TMC offices ransacked in the vandalism and arson that lasted several hours in the East Midnapore town, about 150 km from Kolkata. Soon after, Union home minister Rajnath Singh called up West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to express concern.

The simmering tension between the parties after the clashes was fanned on Wednesday with BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha urging cadres to carry sticks to all public rallies in Bengal and TMC Contai MP Sisir Adhikari retorting that his party workers were ready to give a befitting reply.

“I am telling our supporters to carry bundles of sticks to all public rallies in the state as long as this government is in power. These sticks should not be used to attack others but for self defence,” Sinha said at a press conference in Burdwan. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said his partymen had started taking appropriate steps.

Reacting to the BJP’s announcement, TMC’s Adhikari said, “They carried sticks, knives, bows and arrows and even shotguns on Tuesday itself. Let them carry weapons for as long as they want... We know very well how to resist them...”

BJP workers held a procession on Central Avenue in Kolkata on Wednesday to protest against the violence and gheraoed TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee’s car. TMC leaders familiar with the developments said party chief Banerjee had told the home minister during the phone call on Tuesday that he should restrain BJP workers before pointing fingers at her party workers for the violence. The chief minister carried on from where she left off at a public meeting in Birbhum on Wednesday.

“They ransacked several vehicles and did not spare even one carrying students. They also set fire to vehicles. Those who have done so have no right to be in politics and run a government,” she claimed. The BJP’s state chief alleged much the same things.

The police produced the 11 arrested persons in a Contai court, which sent them to 14 days’ judicial custody on Wednesday. Indrajit Basu, additional superintendent of police (rural) in East Midnapore, said, “We are conducting raids in nearby areas to find out if others were involved in ransacking vehicles and setting two-wheelers ablaze.” The police said those arrested belonged to both the BJP and TMC but refused to individually divulge anyone’s political affiliation.

First Published: Jan 30, 2019 23:12 IST