A violent clash erupted between police and supporters of the BJP Yuva Morcha (BJYM) when the saffron brigade activists tried to breach barricades put up by the police at Chandni Chowk in central Kolkata this afternoon.

The party workers were leading an agitation against the Kolkata Municipal Corporation over the recent spurt in dengue cases in the city.

When the party activists did not stop despite repeated appeals from police and tried to break through the barricade, police used water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd.

Police said 42 protesters including 13 female BJP workers were arrested by the police. Several leaders including BJP state general secretary Raju Banerjee and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha state president Debjit Sarkar were also arrested. Denying the charges of carrying out a baton charge, a senior police officer said, “The supporters were only chased with lathis when they broke a portion of the aluminium barricade. Initially the officers tried to pacify them and asked them to go back but they did not pay any heed to the appeal. Bricks and bottles were thrown at the police officers. Four policemen have sustained injuries.”

The rally, which was attended by over 1000 party activists, was marching towards the headquarters of Kolkata Municipal Corporation on S N Banerjee Road from Central Avenue when police stopped them at Chandi Chowk on Chittaranjan Avenue.

The area turned into a battlefield as the two sides faced off. Protesters burnt effigies and sat on the road in protest against the arrests of their leaders. Daily commuters suffered immense trouble as traffic movement was thrown out of gear in the entire the central part of the city.

When asked to comment, Mr Partha Chatterjee, secretary general of Trinamul Congress, said, “Those who went to stage demonstration in front of Kolkata Corporation never bothered to come to people’s aid in danger. When they should have come forward to help the people in danger,they did not. Now they have come with mosquito nets to stage a drama.’’

“Why are they not protesting against the exorbitant hike in onion prices and other essential commodities? They are not even bothered about the dwindling economy. They should rather concentrate on these factors. There is a lack of jobs and people have a trying time with soaring price of essential commodities,’’ Mr Chatterjee said.

Asked about Union minister of state Babul Supriyo’s visit to Namkhana Mr Chatterjee said, “When our chief minister Mamata Banerjee was at the control room on that night, when cyclone Bulbul had made a landfall, causing havoc and devastation, he and his fellow leaders were nowhere to be seen. Now, he has gone there to create confusion,” Mr Chatterjee said.