Several policemen and protestors were injured today in clashes at Howrah when police tried to halt a rally taken out by thousands of Left Front activists demanding jobs, cheaper education and factories. Just two days ago, similar clashes had broken out when BJP activists took to the streets to protest high power tariffs in Kolkata and police tried to stop them.
A video posted by news agency ANI showed protestors of the CPM's frontal organisations Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) throwing stones at the police, prompting them to respond with tear gas shells, water cannons and repeated lathicharges.
Left activists, however, claimed stones were thrown by "planted people" from rooftops of one of congested lanes the rally was passing through.
SFI and DYFI had launched the protest march on Thursday from Singur to Nabanna. Singur is the town in Hooghly district where Tata Motors had planned to build a Nano car factor when CPM leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was West Bengal chief minister. The rally was to culminate at Nabanna, the state secretariat, on Friday afternoon.
Clashes broke out when police waylaid protestors near Nabanna where chief minister Mamata Banerjee has her office.
#WATCH Howrah: Youth wing and student wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist), stage a protest alleging unemployment in the state. Police fire tear-gas at protesters. #WestBengalpic.twitter.com/j4OqNTJW28— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2019
Work on the Singur plant was abandoned in October 2008 after Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress held angry agitations against farmland being used for factories and got considerable support from farmers there whose land was acquired by the government for the car factory. The Tata Nano car plant was expected to generate employment opportunities for the local youth in keeping with a promise by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.
Senior CPM leader Biman Bose visited the injured Left activists in hospital later in the day
On Wednesday, similar clashes had broken out on Kolkata's Central Avenue BJP youth activists marched from the party headquarter to the office of the private utility outfit, the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) at Victoria House, They claimed CESC's power tariff was the highest in the country. Police had barricaded the route, resulting in a pitched battle with tear gas shells and water cannons.
According to BJP, many party leaders -- including Sayantan Basu, Raju Banerjee and Debjit Sarkar -- were taken into custody. Around 85 party activists were also hospitalised with injuries suffered in the "unprovoked" police action, they added.
The BJP has emerged as a strong political force in West Bengal after winning 18 seats across the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections, just four shy of the Trinamool Congress' count of 22. The CPI(M), which could not notch even a single win, is now struggling to stay relevant in a state that was once regarded as its undisputed stronghold.
(With inputs from ANI)
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