Left Front protest triggers violence in Kolkata, many injured

ArrayKolkata, Oct 1 (IANS) Many political leaders and workers as well as policemen were injured as a protest programme organised by the Left Front sparked violence leading to pitched battles between the cadres and the security personnel in the heart of the West Bengal capital on Thursday.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretariat member Dipak Dasgupta, and former Kolkata Municipal Corporation councillor Ajoy Saha were hospitalised with serious head injuries following a baton-charge by police.

CPI-M politburo member Md. Salim, and state committee member Manab Mukherjee also bore the brunt of the police fury.

Another CPI-M state secretariat member, Rabin Deb, said over 100 Left Front workers were injured when police hit them with canes.

A senior police officer said a number of their personnel suffered injuries as they were hit with sticks by the protesters, who also hurled rotten eggs.

“Police were attacked. We will register cases under specific sections,” he said.

The Kolkata district unit of the Left Front had announced a march to the city police headquarters Lalbazar in protest against the ‘political bias’ of police in law and order matters and denial of democratic right of opposition parties, and demanding withdrawal of “false” cases against over 300 workers.

The Left Front mobilised thousands of cadres who marched from three intersections — the Y channel in the Dharamtala area, Raja Subodh Mullick square and College square.

All top Left Front leaders, including the combine’s chairman Biman Bose, and state CPI-M secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra took part in the march.

The cadres, all charged up, broke one barricade after another, as they tried to go near the police headquarters, disregarding the police attempts to stop them. This led to scuffles and pitched battles between the two sides.

Deb alleged that police carried out “brutal attacks” when the rallyists reached the crossing of Bowbazar street and Central Avenue. “Even our leadership was beaten up. Labourers, women, no one was spared.”

Television grabs showed police personnel baton-charging women protesters, many of whom bled profusely.

Salim alleged that police carried out planned attack on the instruction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“We condemn the way the participants in the peaceful demonstration were tortured,” said Bose.

Protesting against the “brutal police cane-charge”, the Left Front workers held sit-ins on the road, but dispersed after some time following instructions from their leaders.

Mishra later announced that the Left Front would observe a condemnation day on Friday, “if the demands placed by the Kolkata unit of the Left Front is not met, we will start a statewide agitation”.

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