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Bengal governor calls all-party meet post-poll violence in Kolkata

Police on Wednesday used water cannons, tear gas shells and batons to disperse BJP supporters who were marching towards the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar to protest against Basirhat killings and highlight the law and order situation in the state.

kolkata Updated: Jun 13, 2019 08:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
KN Tripathi,west bengal clashes,basirhat killings
Supporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) break barricades as police use water cannon to disperse them during a protest against what they call violence against their party workers in the state of West Bengal, in Kolkata(Reuters)

West Bengal governor KN Tripathi on Wednesday convened an all-party meeting to discuss post-poll violence hours after clashes between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters and the state police police during a protest march in Kolkata.

Tripathi sent a letter to all prominent political parties in Bengal, urging them to attend the all-party meet on Thursday at 4pm at the Raj Bhavan, news agency PTI quoted sources as saying.

Police on Wednesday used water cannons, tear gas shells and batons to disperse BJP supporters who were marching towards the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar to protest against Basirhat killings and highlight the law and order situation in the state.

The saffron party has alleged that two of its workers were brutally killed in political violence in North 24 Parganas’ Sandeshkhali in Basirhat, a charge dismissed by the ruling Trinamool Congress.

“Tear gas shells and water cannons were used when the procession was far from Lalbazar. We squatted on the main road (at Central Avenue) to protest. Batons were also charged. Many people were injured and were taken to hospitals,” BJP Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh said, accusing the police of not keeping ambulances ready to treat those injured in the protest.

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, along with party president Dilip Ghosh and other senior leaders, held a sit-in demonstration at the Bowbazar-Central Avenue crossing along with 18 newly elected MPs of the party in the state.

The BJP’s protest march comes weeks after the Lok Sabha election results, which saw the BJP make inroads into Bengal by winning 18 out of 42 constituencies in the state that sends the third-largest number of members to the Lok Sabha. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP winning the general election by a resounding majority, the party is now focussing on upcoming state elections, including in West Bengal in 2021 when it hopes to unseat the government led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee

As the BJP activists jostled to reach the Bowbazar crossing in the city on Wednesday, police resorted to firing tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse them, the party said.

In retaliation, BJP workers then raised slogans and hurled stones and bottles at security personnel, police said. The BJP leadership, however, claimed none of the party workers were involved in stone hurling and it was the police which threw stones and bottles at protestors.

“Our leaders were getting prepared to the address the gathering. Suddenly, without any provocation, the police began to use water cannons and tear gas shells. We will tell the Centre that we think that it is time for the state government to go,” said state general secretary Sayantan Basu. The BJP’s protest march, which began from the Subodh Mallick Square, was to move a distance of less than 2km through the Nirmal Chandra Street, Phears Lane, and the BB Ganguly Street towards the police headquarters in Lalbazar. The Kolkata Police had deployed about 3,000 personnel and drones as a precautionary measure.

BJP leader Mukul Roy, Union minister and Raiganj MP Debasree Chowdhury, Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh, Hoogly MP Locket Chatterjee, Bardhaman-Durgapur MP SS Ahluwalia and BJP state vice chief Jay Prakash Majumdar were in attendance at the protest site on Wednesday.

Vijayvargiya, the senior-most party leader at the spot, further alleged that the “Mamata Banerjee government will last for a few days only”.

Rahul Sinha, the BJP’s national secretary, added that CM Mamata Banerjee’s governance in the state will make President’s Rule in Bengal inevitable.

These remarks were made a day after BJP’s Mukul Roy addressed a letter to Union home minister Amit Shah requesting him to take immediate action to safeguard the people of West Bengal as complete “anarchy and chaos” prevailed due to violence in the state. The political violence and blame game between the ruling TMC and the BJP have continued unabated in Bengal after parliamentary elections. In another incident, the mutilated body of a BJP worker was allegedly found in Bengal’s Malda on Wednesday, reported ANI.

BJP Malda unit president Sanjit Mishra blamed TMC for the murder and the party wrote on Twitter: “Why are the chest thumping liberals of award wapasi fame silent now? Is it because West Bengal is not ruled by the BJP, yet?”

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 01:17 IST