Amit Shah Kolkata Rally: The violence started Tuesday evening, first at the gates of Calcutta University
New Delhi: BJP chief Amit Shah's first roadshow in Kolkata ended with violence, arson and a police lathicharge on Tuesday as the rallyists clashed with students holding "Amit Shah Go Back" posters. Mr Shah called it an attempt to "strangulate democracy". Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the violence was triggered by goons the BJP brought from outside Bengal. The "Save Republic rally" was a mega show complete with saffron balloons, BJP flags, and artistes dressed as Hanumans dancing to "Jai Shri Ram" beats, all showered by marigold petals. It was the first of its kind in Kolkata, which has witnessed hundreds of Left and Trinamool rallies.
Here is your 10-point guide to this story:
- The violence started on Tuesday evening at the gates of Calcutta University. Some students in the campus allegedly shouted anti-BJP slogans and BJP supporters rushed at them with rods. Policemen stepped in to prevent a clash.
- Less than a kilometre down College Street, Amit Shah's van passed by Vidyasagar College but rallyists following him allegedly charged at the students standing with "Go Back Amit Shah" posters. The BJP supporters rushed into the campus, set motorcycles on fire and vandalised the bust of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar -- a 19th century educationist and social reformer. Mamata Banerjee visited the college in the evening.
- The police initially used batons to bring the crowd under control. Later, several people were arrested for the violence, a police officer said.
- A BJP delegation, comprising Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, GVL Narasimha Rao and others are expected to meet the Election Commission later this evening over the clashes.
- "What does Amit Shah think of himself? Is he above everything? Is he God that no one can protest against him?" Mamata Banerjee said. Senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien tweeted: "Desperate BJP goons from outside Bengal smash statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside the college. Violent mob of BJP 'outsiders' in presence of Pukeworthy Shah. How little you know about Bengal, its rich history, its culture. Bengal will never forgive for what you did today."
- Accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress of engineering the violence, Amit Shah said it was a bid to "strangulate democracy". Alleging that 60 BJP workers were killed during the panchayat polls, he said it was also an attempt to "influence" the election. "Have faith in the people of Bengal that they'd face the TMC goons," he said.
- The Mamata Banejee government had earlier refused permission for the BJP's rallies or rath yatras on grounds of law and order. Last year, it withheld permission for three BJP rath yatras in the state -- its decision was accepted by the Supreme Court at a hearing in January.
- On Monday, the government had allegedly withdrawn permission for a rally led by Amit Shah in the Jadhavpur constituency. No permission was granted either for the landing of Amit Shah's chopper either. Supporters of the BJP and the Trinamool had clashed as the venue of the cancelled event.
- Amit Shah had taken on the Chief Minister, alleging that she was trying to protect her nephew, who was contesting from one of the areas he was supposed to visit. Abhishek Banerjee is seeking re-election from Diamond Harbour.
- The Chief Minister mocked the BJP chief, saying, "Babu has done a michil(rally) in Kolkata -- with people from Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. But he has attacked the heritage of Bengal. We will have our revenge.
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