A video of a policeman being chased and beaten with sticks emerged from Kolkata late this evening amid a huge political row that followed the massive violence in the city during a protest held earlier by the BJP. The party has claimed that the violence started under provocation by the police, who have been targeting its outstation workers before they could even land in Kolkata.
During the day, parts of the city had turned into a battle zone, where one side used stones and poles, and the other batons, tear gas and water cannons. A police car was torched as well. A group of leaders, including Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari and MP Locket Chatterjee were detained.
The video started with several men trying to hit an officer wearing the crisp whites of Kolkata Police. He is seen trying to defend himself, holding a fiberglass shield to protect his head as the men rained blows on him. Then he turned on his attackers and they fled, but shortly caught an officer in khaki who was standing by the side of the road.
As he started running, the men, many of them dressed in saffron shirts and carrying BJP flags, gave chase. They finally caught the policeman as he came to a barricade and found his way blocked. The men set upon him, thrashing him with bamboo poles. He was finally rescued by some people, who appeared to be locals.
The officer, who is yet to be identified, has fractured his hand, sources said.
Asked about the videos of violence, where flag-waving protesters were seen targeting the police, BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta told NDTV that all of that took place "Outside the main body of demonstration, which gives rise to suspicion on who were these protesters".
Union Minister Subhash Sarkar has squarely blamed the state police, accusing them of targeting the protesters at the railway stations as they came to Kolkata, "throwing stones at them" during the protest and even "placing barricades a kilometer from the state secretariat" where the protesters were headed.
Insisting that he was not justifying violence, Mr Sarkar told NDTV, "The police took action on the common people. The police pelted stones at the crowd. The police provoked the men to attack. The police provoked a peaceful demonstration. The common people came. They were angry".
The Trinamool has claimed that the police showed "tremendous restraint", citing the police firing in 1993 in which 13 Trinamool workers were killed in Kolkata. Trinamool's Sougata Roy pointed out that despite being under attack from protesters, the police did not open fire.
Claiming that the intention of the BJP was to provoke the police so they resort to firing, he said, "The BJP workers have thrown stones and bricks at random. They have injured several policemen including IPS officers. They have broken cars in Burrabazar area... Very few BJP people have been injured. In every TV screen you can see BJP workers throwing stones".