Civic volunteers, police clash in Bengal

Kolkata, Sep 14 (IANS) Over 20 people, including six policemen, were injured on Monday when a demonstration by civic police volunteers turned violent in West Bengal’s Malda district, police said.

The civic police volunteers had taken out a procession to submit to Superintendent of Police Prasun Banerjee a memorandum of their demands including regularisation of payments and reinstatement of some of them who have been discharged of their duties.

With police blocking the procession citing they did not take prior permission, an altercation ensued which snowballed into a clash.

Police resorted to a baton charge after the volunteers allegedly pelted stones.

“Six of our men have been injured. We have arrested seven people in this connection,” said Banerjee.

According to police, 15 of the volunteers sustained injuries in the clash.

However, an organisation of civic volunteers claimed that at least 75 of them sustained serious injuries in the “brutal” baton charge and 65 of them were arrested.

“Members of the West Bengal Civic Police Association (WBCPA) led by state president Sanjoy Poria had peacefully assembled to submit a deputation to the police superintendent about their demands. But police brutally lathi-charged causing severe injuries to 75 civic volunteers and also arrested more than 65 of them,” said Swapan Ganguly.

Ganguly is the convener of the Ossongothito Khetra Shramik Sangrami Mancha — an organisation of unorganised sector workers, to which the WBPCA is affiliated.

Condemning the police action, the Mancha demanded immediate release of the arrested volunteers as well as reinstating the dismissed volunteers and regularisation of their pay.

Dismissing the police claims of not having prior permission, Poria said: “We wrote to the English Bazar police station on September 8 about our programme, but they did not respond to that. The assembly was peaceful, police needlessly resorted to baton charge.”

There are over 1,25,000 civic police volunteers in the state and are mainly engaged assist police in controlling road traffic.

 

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