Traffic held up as police and BJP supporters clash in south Kolkata


7 Apr 2012
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A pitched battle between BJP supporters and police at several points in the Hazra-Kalighat stretch disrupted traffic in south Kolkata for over an hour on Thursday. Four BJP activists and 13 cops were injured. Police have arrested 22 BJP activists, including five women. BJP's Kolkata unit had organised protest rally against Wednesday's attack on Union minister Babul Supriyo at Asansol by alleged Trinamool activists.
Trouble broke out at around 2pm when the BJP rallyists tried to take the Kalighat route that led to chief minister Mamata Banerjee's residence. Police with head gears and lathis took position and wouldn't allow the BJP supporters to proceed beyond the Sadananda Road-Hazra crossing. Senior BJP leaders Rahul Sinha, Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly, Kolkata leaders and familiar faces in television talk shows - Joyprakash Majumdar and Ritesh Tiwari - led the rally from the front. Women in front forged ahead while female cops took position. "In the melee, some people from behind pelted stones at the police," a witness said. Sensing the mood, the police gave them a chase and tried to push back the rallyists.
Things went out of control after the BJP supporters came back with reinforced strength as their two leaders - Rahul Sinha at Rashbehari end and Roopa Ganguly at Hazra - stayed put and refused to move out of the spot. There was brickbatting for a short while when policemen on duty lathicharged the mob. This went on for two or three rounds while the police scaled up the pushback (read lathicharge). As a result, some people suffered injuries on the back of their heads. "An ambulance got stuck near Kalighat tram depot while rallyists and police played cat and mouse for half an hour. I found a BJP supporter bleeding profusely after a policeman hit him on head," said phuchka seller Mukesh Shaw, standing near Hazra crossing.  
BJP Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly complained that some policemen had hit the rallyists from behind. "We have the right to protest," said Ganguly. She also denied that BJP activists had hurled stones at the police. "The Trinamool government used the women cops according to plan to do what they wanted," Ganguly said. Police arrested BJP leader Joyprakash Mazumdar. Condemning the arrests, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha accused the police of coming down on a "peaceful agitation."
Till late evening, police registered 2 separate FIRs at Bhowanipore and Kalighat police stations. One of the FIRs has certain non-bailable charges pertaining to rioting. Twelve of the 22 arrested persons have got bail.  

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