Kolkata: Hundred and thiry four BJP workers, including top leaders, were arrested in Kolkata during their three-pronged march to Lalbazar, Kolkata Police headquarters, on Thursday. This came after clashes with the police that saw bomb blasts and brickbatting. The police had to use water cannons, tear gas and batons to control the situation.
Among those arrested are BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh, BJP lawmaker Roopa Ganguly, BJP national general secretaries Kailash Vijayvargiya and Rahul Ghosh and leader Locket Chatterjee.
Many of those arrested have been charged with non-bailable offences. But those charged with bailable offences refused to take bail unless everyone was released. So all of them will be produced in court on Friday, the police said late Thursday night.
Before being grabbed by women police and taken to the lock up, Roopa Ganguly said, "BJP is growing so fast in Bengal, we have become Mamata sarkar's prime target," she said.
The CPM dismissed the claim.
"What Kolkata saw today was match fixing by the BJP and Trinamool government," said Sujan Chakraborty, CPM MLA.
"At the same time, as the protests in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee was meeting Narendra Modi in Delhi," he added.
As on Monday, when the Left had held city-wide protests and protesters had clashed with police, BJP workers and policemen were injured on Thursday too. Some media persons also got hurt. But in fewer numbers than Monday. They had been given bright yellow vests by Kolkata Police to avoid beating them up "accidentally".
As the BJP rally led by state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh from Howrah reached the Brabourne Road barricade, a bomb exploded, sending some BJP workers running for their lives, but others tried to breach the barricades. Tear gas filled the air. Then water cannons were deployed.
At BB Ganguly Street leading to Lalbazar, protestors set a police jeep on fire. Not far away, a police van was stoned. At 2 pm, all the BJP rallies were declared illegal and lathicharges began.
BJP leader Rahul Ghosh grabbed a flag and made a dash for Lalbazar but was stopped. Police chased BJP protestors into the Metro Central Station on Central Avenue and thrashed them there too as commuters watched in shock.
Clashes also erupted near the BJP office after BJP workers heckled the police standing guard nearby. Police claimed stones were thrown to. A teargas was lobbed into the lane that houses the BJP office, eyewitnesses claimed. Then a group of police rushed to the entrance of the office and could be seen caning some protestors there.
Some people were seen hurling stones from the BJP office windows at the police.