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BJP's march turns violent

Staff Reporter

Two senior leaders arrested; party to observe ‘Black Day' today

PHOTO: PTI

A Rapid Action Force jawan aims a stone at BJP supporters during their ‘Mahakaran Abarodh' in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Kolkata: Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fought a pitched battle with the police at different places here on Tuesday when their protest march towards the State Secretariat against price rise and deteriorating law and order situation in the State turned violent.

While two senior State BJP leaders were arrested along with several other supporters following the fracas, the State unit of the BJP decided to observe “Black Day” on Wednesday in protest against “police excesses”.

Though the protest demonstrations and processions in the afternoon were largely peaceful despite causing severe traffic dislocation, trouble broke out when the BJP supporters tried to break down the barricades put up by the police at a safe distance from the State Secretariat.

According to the police, the BJP supporters started throwing stones at the police and even hurled a few bombs. Several vehicles and shops were damaged and traffic was thrown out of gear.

The police resorted to baton charge but later burst tear-gas shells to bring the situation under control.

Several BJP supporters, policemen and even few journalists suffered injuries during the half-an-hour-long scuffle that could be reigned in only after a huge contingent of police was brought in.

Twenty police personnel and around 40 BJP supporters were injured and more than 25 BJP supporters and leaders including the president of the party's State unit, Rahul Sinha, were arrested.

Unprovoked

Claiming that the attack on its supporters by the police was “unprovoked”, the State BJP leadership blamed a section of the police for the violence.

“With the Chief Minister scheduled to address a Left Front rally at 4 p.m., the police tried to remove us from the area and a particular police officer gave orders to start baton charging. Our protest march was peaceful and symbolic but police excesses gave it a violent face,” Samik Bhattacharya, a senior State BJP leader, said.

The police, however, said that the scuffle was “pre-planned” and added that an inquiry will be initiated into the violence after video-footages of the protest march are examined.

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