Posted on May 15, 2019, 4:34 PM IST
BJP - TMC clash during Amit Shah’s roadshow in West Bengal. Tension simmers.
Clashes erupted in West Bengal yet again between Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party members on Tuesday, when campaigns for the last phase of Lok Sabha elections were going on. As Amit Shah conducted his road-show, bottles, stones and bricks were thrown at a bust of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in a street brawl between students of both parties. The violence took place outside University of Calcutta’s College Street campus and Vidyasagar College on Bidhan Sarani.
Several were injured and the police ordered Shah to wrap up the campaign. Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajesh Kumar said: “Over 100 people have been detained by police. We will take strong action against those who are responsible for the incidents.”
Both sides are accussing the other of starting the violence. TMC students alleged that bottles and stones were thrown at them by BJP workers. The other side claims that their move came out of retaliation. During the clash at the College Street campus, BJP workers were seen hurling water bottles, one of which hit The Indian Express reporter on the head.
A new verbal battle seems to have started betweem Shah and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who leads the TMC.
Targetting Banerjee, Mr. Modi stated to India TV, “Democracy has been strangled there… And the question is not the BJP and TMC or the central government and Bengal government. This entire matter is between the public of Bengal and the Bengal government. The Bengal public is upset with the Bengal government’s actions and its atrocities, and wants to make its decision in a democratic manner. This an attempt by the TMC to stop that.”
Calling the incident “a black chapter in democracy”, Shah said: “TMC is resorting to violence to stop us.” He said the stone-pelting and arson was the handiwork of “anti-social elements” at the “behest of the TMC”.
“Mamata Didi cannot frighten us with violence,” he said, adding that the TMC was “frustrated” because the BJP was going to win “maximum seats” in West Bengal. “Our workers and mediapersons sustained injuries in the attack by Trinamool. This incident appears to be a part of some larger conspiracy of the Mamata government. Violence has no space in democracy,” he said.
The Election Commission has sought a report on the issue by its special oberserver.
“The entire college has been vandalised and the bust of Vidyasagar has been destroyed. Two motorbikes were set ablaze. Students were also beaten up. I have never seen such a shameful incident in my life,” said Mamta Banerjee in defence whilst accusing the BJP of bringing about trouble in their state.
“They have brought BJP goons from Rajasthan and Bihar to create riots here. Amit Shah has no idea about the reputation of Calcutta University and Vidyasagar College. Why did BJP goons attack the institutes? We have decided to take out a rally tomorrow to protest this incident,” she said.
Students, allegedly from TMC’s student wing stood at the main gate of College Street campus with black flags and posters. They chanted “go back” and “chowkidaar chor hai”, which perhaps led to the first set of clashes. Slogans of “Jai Sri Ram” were chanted in retaliation.
In the violence that followed, bottles, bricks, stones, even sticks were hurled. Outnumbered, some of the policemen stationed there asked both sides with folded hands to back down. Later, the main gate of the university was closed.
An hour later, a second clash took place at Vidyasagar College on Bidhan Sarani. TMC and BJP workers attacked each other with slogans. Hostel premises were vandalised and the bust of Vidyasagar was destroyed. two two-wheelers and a bicycle were set ablaze.
Students alleged that several among them were injured when BJP workers hurled bricks and stones. “They entered the campus and started ransacking the office. They threw stones which left several students injured,” said Madhurima Roy, a student
The BJP workers alleged that it was the students who hurled stones at them, forcing them to retaliate. “They incited our workers by throwing stones at us. Two of our workers were injured,” said Shyam Mandal, a BJP worker.
TMCP state president Trinankur Bhattacharya said: “So far, we have reports of seven people being injured. But the number is likely to go up as many are still in hospital.”