Strongly condemning the "barbaric treatment" by the West Bengal police towards the BJP workers during their "Nabanna Chalo" protest on Thursday, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that he got to know that the water sprayed on them was laced with chemicals.
"Around one lakh BJP members took out a march towards the state secretariat against the spate of recent political killings in Bengal. But police used barbaric force with lathi-charge and water cannons to stop them, because of which 1,500 were injured," the minister said during a press conference today.
"I was told that the water sprayed on the BJP march was laced with chemicals because many started vomiting," Mr Prasad said.
The union minister said that among those injured included many senior leaders like national secretary Arvind Menon, state vice-president Raju Banerjee who had to be hospitalised; north Kolkata president Shivaji Sinha Roy who was hit on the head and youth wing president Tejasvi Surya who was manhandled. He also said that many women protestors had been misbehaved with. Stating that the BJP does not believe in violence, he said that peaceful protest is "our right".
"The BJP assures the people of Bengal that the party will continue to speak up for the citizens' democratic rights peacefully. We will bring about a change in Bengal as the residents are yearning for a change and that is why the government is creating an atmosphere of fear, putting pressure on the opposition."
"We want to humbly tell Mamataji and the West Bengal government that if you think that you can stop the BJP with baton and barbaric police excess, you won't be successful. The BJP strongly condemns this barbaric treatment by the Bengal police of senior leaders of the party," he added.
Recalling last year's Lok Sabha elections, he said the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) had tried this before. "But we won 18 seats in Bengal. The grassroots reality is telling us that the BJP will form the government whenever there are Assembly elections."
Mr Prasad also lashed out at chief minister Mamata Banerjee, whom he alleged was "losing political foothold" in the state.
"In your state, people are arrested even for making cartoons (referring to the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor in 2012), if somebody opposes you, he or she gets killed. The reason is clear: it's because the TMC and Mamata are losing political foothold," he said.