With major roads in central Kolkata turning into battlefields, traffic was disrupted in a wide radius and commuters stranded for almost two hours at some places. Clashes erupted at Dufferin Road, Hastings, Police Training School in Kolkata and at Satragachi and near Nabanna in Howrah.
"The police attack proves there is no democracy left in Bengal," said Biman Bose, CPM Polit Bureau member and Left Front chairman. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "This is worse than Emergency. There is not freedom to protest. People were beaten up 7-8 km from Nabanna. Why?"
Why did the Left hold the protest? Ostensibly, for farmers' rights, with 18 demands including rooting out corruption from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MNREGA scheme. They sought employment guarantee for for 200 days a year at Rs 300 a day, a procurement price hike for rice, potato and mustard and pension for farmers over 60.
Even as the protests wound down by about 3:30 PM, at Dufferin Road police suddenly lathi-charged journalists. Several reporters, camera-persons and photographers were injured and had to be rushed to the hospital. Press Club Kolkata has condemned the attacks and demanded a probe into the matter.
BJP, fighting for second place in Bengal, watched today's clashes closely. They are marching, as planned earlier, to Kolkata Police Headquarters, Lalbazar, on Thursday. "BJP demands a judicial probe into police lathi-charge on journalists," BJP General Secretary Rahul Sinha said.