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Cops stop BJP Uttarkanya march; one killed

Vijayvargiya’s car ‘attacked’ in Siliguri; Dilip Ghosh blames miscreants posing as policemen for death of ‘BJP worker’

MANAS R BANNERJEE | Siliguri |

One BJP worker died allegedly when police rained batons on a protesting mob of BJP activists at Fulbari in Siliguri today. Sources said several BJP workers, including six leaders of the party’s women’s wing, were injured, along with several police personnel. BJP leaders said at least 50 party workers, including women, were injured in the clash and that many of them had been hospitalized.

Hundreds of BJP workers and supporters marched towards Uttarkanya, the state government’s branch secretariat, protesting the state government’s “misrule,” here today, when police stopped them.

The BJP state leadership has called for a 12-hour shutdown in north Bengal tomorrow, the day anti-BJP political parties have also called a ‘Bharat Bandh’ in protest against the new farm sector laws.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh alleged that his party worker, Ulen Roy, a resident of Gazoldoba in Jalpaiguri district, succumbed to his injuries in hospital after he was hit by “PNG gun bullets” and police beat him up black and blue. He further alleged that miscreants who posed as police opened fire on BJP activists during the protest march.

“Police will have to clarify who opened fire with PNG guns from the police side. Miscreants also hurled bombs from rooftops on either sides of the road,” Mr Ghosh said. On the other hand, while tourism minister Gautam Deb said there were conflicting claims from BJP leaders on the death, the state police said in Kolkata that the actual cause of the death would be known only after a post-mortem. Police also denied resorting to any lathi-charge or using fire arms during the clash.

Sources, however, said a report issued by a private hospital in Siliguri where the BJP activist died, to the NJP police station, mentioned “multiple pellet injury” on his chest.

Even as speculations went on, unidentified persons in Siliguri attacked BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s car. “Miscreants hurled bombs on my car,” Mr Vijayvargiya said.

The state BJP leadership today met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar in protest against the Uttarkanya incident. State BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya, addressing the press, said his party would observe a 12hour bandh in north Bengal.

Significantly, TMC MP Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar tweeted: “We believe in peace and harmony. Every loss of life is sad. BJP is indulging in guns and goon politics.”

Either side of Uttarkanya on Asian Highway-2 at Tinbatti and Fulbari turned battlefield when workers of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and BJP workers and leaders broke the first and second police barricades. Protesters also set fire on barricades.

Police used water cannons and fired several rounds of tear gas shells and threw stones to retaliate the protesters, even as the latter hurled stones at the police.

Notably, the BJYM had called the “Uttarkanya Avijan” today following the line of “Nabanna Avijan,” while keeping an eye on the Assembly elections in 2021.

Significantly, besides BJYM national president Tejaswi Surya, top leaders including Kailash Vijayvargiya, Dilip Ghosh, Sayantan Basu, MPs Soumitra Khan, Nisith Pramanik, Raju Bista and others, attended the protest programme. State president Mr Ghosh led the team from Fulbari, while state observer Mr Vijayvargiya led the team from the Jalpai More side.

Mr Vijayvargiya started marching towards Uttarkanya by shouting slogans “Chal Chor Sarkar Aar Noy Darkar” (No need of government that steals rice) as soon as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ended her programme in Midnapore, where she attacked the BJP.

Addressing the gathering at Jalpai More, BJP’s national spokesperson Raju Bista described the role of Uttarkanya and how the North Bengal Development Department has been turned into a “cut money collection centre” and how there was a rift between the former and present NBDD ministers over the issue. According to Mr Bista, there are name plates of several departments at Uttarkanya, but all of them were non-functional and they had failed to serve the north Bengal people.

Mr Bista has drawn the attention of authorities concerned, including the chief minister and director general of police over today’s death of Ulen Roy. “The death of Ulen Roy was due to the unlawful actions of the police, as police excesses on BJP workers are a known fact in West Bengal, where over 150 BJP workers have died in the past two years for their political beliefs.”

“We have rightful apprehensions that the murder of Ulen Roy will be reported as a suicide or death by other means,” Mr Bista said, adding, “I request you to kindly ensure that the post-mortem of Ulen Roy takes place in the presence of at least three doctors with completed video recording of it,” he later said.