A day before the 12-hour bandh called by the BJP in protest against the killing of two youths at a school in Islampur last week, activists of the party’s students wing, ABVP, clashed with the police after they burnt the chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s effigy and squatted on the road in central Kolkata.
The police were seen chasing the protesters, grabbing some by their collars and hitting them with lathis.
The ABVP is demanding the immediate resignation of state education minister Partha Chatterjee over the killing of the two youths in alleged police firing.
The BJP’s student activists, led by party leaders Mukul Roy and Locket Chatterjee took out a procession and blocked the Esplanade area. Soon a scuffle ensued between the activists and the police.
The police tried to pacify the crowd, but the ABVP activists refused to budge and squatted on the road, which caused the police to use force to disperse the crowd.
“The state government has for the sake of its appeasement politics allowed the killing of two youths. It has to answer the question or else the education minister should resign,” ABVP state president Subir Haldar said.
The state BJP president Dilip Ghosh sounded a warning of taking revenge on some Trinamul Congress and police personnel if the party comes to power after the 2021 state Assembly polls.
The Congress and the Left Front too protested against the killings, though they oppose the bandh. Congress Rajya Sabha member Pradip Bhattacharya demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
“Before coming to power in the state in 2011, Mamata Banerjee used to say badla noy bodol chai (no revenge, only regime change) in the state. But we don’t understand what bodol (change) has happened in the state,” the BJP state president said.
“Some IPS officers and inspectors in charge (IC) of police stations are behaving like Trinamul activists and we are preparing a list of these police personnel,” the BJP state president said.
“The state government is still in the dark about the cause of deaths of the two students,” he added.
Meanwhile, life in the city came to a grinding halt on the first working day of the week, due to a spate of rallies by various organisations on Tuesday.
Huge traffic snarls engulfed stretches in the southern part of the city while movement of vehicles around Esplanade almost came to a standstill for some time in the afternoon. The Esplanade area became a focus of protests, resulting in the traffic getting jammed for several hours.
For a while, Dorina Crossing was choked by a protest rally organised by the students of the ABVP led by the BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Locket Chatterjee.
The agitating ABVP activists blocked Esplanade area near the Metro cinema hall while staging the demonstration. Eight agitators including ABVP state president Akash Chuhan were arrested after clashes broke out between the protesters and the police while trying to disperse the crowd. The arrested students were granted bail later.
The rally by the students of Left organisations from Shimla Street to Esplanade around 1 p.m. caused difficulties for students returning home while creating worse situation for people who came out for puja shopping.
Several buses coming along Moulali towards JL Nehru Road were diverted along other routes. The movement of vehicles was disrupted at Bentinck Street which remained closed at the Esplanade crossing end for about an hour.
The later part of the day witnessed another political gathering by Left organisations at Rani Rashmoni Avenue. Though the second gathering had only about a hundred people, it created a logjam in the surrounding area.
Buses from Mayo Road to Raj Bhawan were diverted towards Babughat leading to huge disruption in the movement of vehicles. Officials from the traffic control room informed that although the traffic disruption was in phases, it remained for quite a few hours.