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Left calls 12-hour strike after clash with cops during march

The organisations led by DYFI and the SFI today turned the city streets into a sea of red flags and red cards as they marched towards Nabanna. Two large processions from Howrah and Sealdah gathered at College Street from where they headed towards Nabanna

SOUMYADIP MULLICK | Kolkata |

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee wanted to turn Dorina Crossing into Singhu border and hence unleashed the police force to mount a brutal attack on activists of 10 Left youth organisations who were marching to Nabanna today to submit a memorandum of their demands of education and jobs, said CPI-M politburo member Md Salim, announcing a 12-hour strike by the Left Front tomorrow against today’s “police atrocity”.

The organisations led by DYFI and the SFI today turned the city streets into a sea of red flags and red cards as they marched towards Nabanna. Two large processions from Howrah and Sealdah gathered at College Street from where they headed towards Nabanna. However, large posse of police were ready to block the march at Dorina Crossing where layers of aluminium and bamboo barricades were set up while water cannons and Kolkata Police RAF were on stand-by to disperse the protest.

A massive showdown took place as the procession reached SN Banerjee Road when the youth activists were charged with water cannons, first, and then tear gas shells. The protesters attempted to push back the barricades but were subjected to further resistance when the police crossed the barricade and began charging batons at the activists who fought back with bricks, flags, placards and anything they could lay their hands on while sloganeering, “Inquilab Zindabad”.

Several students, including women, were injured and lay on the road gasping for breath. After almost an hour, the protesters withdrew to Moulali where they began a sit-in demonstration against “police atrocity.” However, the police resumed baton charging there to clear the spot.

Condemning the “brutal police offensive” against the Left youth organizations, the Salim said, “Mamata wanted Dorina Crossing to become Singhu border. There the farmers are being attacked by police with nails, barbed wires, tear gas and here the state government replicates the same using. Is Mamata Banerjee so scared of youths who only wanted to meet her and convey their legitimate demands of employment education, fair recruitment process?”

“The state government launched a pre-meditated attack since the barricades were set up after drilling the concrete road. This proves the planning was done much before. It is shameful the police attacked the youth mercilessly since water mixed with bleach was sprayed while expired tear gas shells were lobbed just to cause more damage,” alleged Salim.

“Police is meant to protect citizens and ensure law and order but they instead chose to thrash student activists and send them to hospitals. Some of the injured protesters are admitted at SSKM, Medical College and few others,” he said and taunted Miss Banerjee adding,“She recently said binoculars are needed to spot the Left but now she had to deploy drones to monitor Left processions.” Left Front chairman Biman Basu likened the incident to Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

Meanwhile, state Congress supported the 12-hour bandh called by CPI-M on Friday. Leader of the Opposition, Abdul Mannan said that conduct of the police reached a new low during the day. Police not only entered shops in New Market area while looking for the activists but also picked up pedestrians for interrogation, he alleged.