The clash between workers of Trinamul Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) at Bhangar, South 24-Parganas this morning spilled on to the streets of Kolkata as well later in the day. The clash started allegedly in connection with putting up flags at Hatisala, Bhangar by the ISF supporters.
The AISF leadership claimed that their supporters were harassed by the ruling party workers when they were going to attend a function at the local ISF office to mark the party’s foundation day. However, the Trinamool leadership claimed that it was their supporters who were attacked by ISF-backed ‘goons’, who even ransacked three Trinamul party offices.
Since Saturday morning, there had been incidents of sporadic violence at Bhangar, the impact of which later spread to Kolkata. Late on Saturday afternoon, the ISF supporters led by Siddique blocked roads in the Esplanade area, protesting against the Bhangar violence. They alleged that the attacks on ISF workers were carried out by the ruling party’s ‘goons’ led by former Trinamul MLA from Bhangar, Arabul Islam. They also demanded immediate arrest of Islam.
As the huge police contingent tried to disperse the mob, the AISF supporters retaliated with brickbats and bamboo sticks. They even removed the guardrail barricades set up by the police. After the police arrested Siddique, the ISF supporters became even more agitated and another round of clashes ensued between them and the police. The outfit’s leader and MLA Naushad Siddiqui along with 17 activists were later taken into custody by police for fomenting trouble and attacking the police.
The simmering tension regarding the clash at Bhangar was palpable even at the venue of its meeting at Esplanade as a huge police force stood on guard to ward off any untoward incident. But despite the deployment, the fracas eventually broke out after the police started lifting the blockade once repeated requests to Siddiqui and his supporters yielded no results. The blockade that brought vehicular traffic to a standstill at such a busy intersection like Esplanade around 5 pm prompted the police to swing into action.