West Bengal BJP leaders took out marches following their call for a 12-hour Bengal bandh to protest the killing of two students in a clash in North Dinajpur district’s Islampur on 21 September.
Top leaders of the party joined supporters in various parts of the state. Marching through the streets of Kolkata and elsewhere, the BJP leaders raised slogans against the West Bengal government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Babul Supriyo, the BJP MP from Asansol, said that the people of the state have extended support to the Bandh to protest the atrocities of the state government.
“People of West Bengal have come out in support of BJP’s #BanglaBondh and are now standing against the atrocities of @MamataOfficial’s Government. Open-firing on students in Islampur was the last straw for TMC and we will see to it that justice is achieved,” he tweeted.
People of West Bengal have come out in support of BJP’s #BanglaBondh and are now standing against the atrocities of @MamataOfficial‘s Government. Open-firing on students in Islampur was the last straw for TMC and we will see to it that justice is achieved. pic.twitter.com/aJhu89shcS
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) September 26, 2018
Mukul Roy, former TMC leader and now member of the BJP, accused Mamata Banerjee government of fascism stating that the response to the bandh leaves her party exposed.
“@MamataOfficial, fascist face of your government stands exposed when your police opened fire on students for demanding teacher in Islampur,” he said on Twitter.
Overwhelming support to #BanglaBondh by common people of West Bengal. @MamataOfficial, fascist face of your government stands exposed when your police opened fire on students for demanding teacher in Islampur. pic.twitter.com/wuOKYpD5QJ
— Mukul Roy (@MukulR_Official) September 26, 2018
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who led one of the protest marches from Rasbehari Avenue, accused the TMC of deploying hooligans to disrupt the peaceful protest at Pirgacha in North 24 Parganas’ Barasat.
— BJP Bengal (@BJP4Bengal) September 26, 2018
MP Roopa Ganguly and BJP’s national secretary from West Bengal, Rahul Sinha, too, were seen leading protest marches in different parts of the state.
বনধের সমর্থনে মিছিল, সঙ্গে শমীক ভট্টাচার্য ও বিজেপি কর্মী – সমর্থকরা pic.twitter.com/9XY754S0hh
— Roopa Ganguly (@RoopaSpeaks) September 26, 2018
“While buses are available, most of them are running empty. I got into a number of buses since morning and requested the commuters to support our cause. None of the buses remain this empty during office hours on a general day. This shows people are spontaneously supporting the shutdown,” Ganguly said, adding that her party will not resort to any form of violence knowing that TMC “is always prepared to attack us”.
Supporters of the party blocked railway tracks leading to disruption in train services – a lifeline for lakhs of commuters in the state.
Bandh supporters squatted on the tracks at Barasat, Krishnagar and some stations in Sealdah division for 5-10 minutes in the morning before the blockade was lifted. Blockades were also reported from Chengail, Andul and Ramrajatala stations in the Howrah-Kharagpur section of the South Eastern Railway.
— BJP Bengal (@BJP4Bengal) September 26, 2018
While train services were briefly affected, bus services remained normal throughout the state though bus drivers were reportedly seen wearing helmets.
The situation in Kolkata and adjoining suburbs was largely normal but the impact of the shutdown was felt in parts of North Dinajpur district.
In some places near Islampur, a few state-run buses were reportedly vandalised and BJP workers set up road blockades elsewhere.
Islampur was the site of a major clash between the police and students who were protesting against the recruitment teachers for of Urdu and Sanskrit instead of the urgently needed Science and English in Daribhit High School.
According to reports, Rajesh Sarkar, an ITI student, died on Thursday while Tapas Barman, a third-year student, succumbed to his injuries in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on Friday.
Locals alleged that the two were killed in police firing but the charge was denied by the police.
In light of the bandh, the TMC government deployed heavy police force in Kolkata and elsewhere in the state to avoid any untoward incident.
Clashes between TMC and BJP supporters were reported from Cooch Behar and Nadia districts. Sporadic incidents of violence and vandalism were reported from some other parts.
The state government had issued a notification on Wednesday for its employees asking them to attend office on the bandh day. The employees were told that there will be no holiday on the day before or after the Bangla Bandh. Even a half holiday will not be sanctioned on the day, it said. Commercial establishments, private offices and educational institutions were also asked to function normally on Wednesday.
(With inputs from agencies.)