Howrah: Roads around the 19th century iconic Howrah Station resembled a battleground on Tuesday with brickbats aimed at police personnel flying thick and fast, and drenched protesters hit by water cannons limping to the safety of nearby alleyways and shops.
BJP agitators brought in by special trains for a protest march to the Bengal secretariat turned violent when they found roads leading to the state’s seat of power barricaded by riot police.
Dilip Biswas, 34, who had boarded one of the special trains to come to the metropolis from Andal, said, I never realised the protest march would turn into such a fierce combat… The police were relentless, while those in the crowd besides me were equally violent.
I don’t know who started throwing stones at the police, but after two officers went down like nine pins, they started firing water cannons, burst tear gas shells and lathicharged us.
The protesters also hurled glass bottles at police personnel, while some of them were seen lifting tree logs to chase security forces away.
Several people on both sides were reportedly injured in the melee.
I had come here to buy electrical goods for my shop in Serampore without knowing that protests here would become so violent… My pocket has been picked, my eyes are stinging due to tear gas and I have somehow managed to escape being lathicharged. I want to forget this day and just get back home, said Kaushik Ghosh in a sombre tone.
Meanwhile, a number of BJP leaders, who took part in the rally, were detained by police along with their supporters.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar, party leader Agnimitra Paul and hundreds of activists staged a sit-in at Howrah Maidan, after police stopped them from proceeding towards Nabanna’ (state secretariat).
The saffron camp has been taking out rallies across West Bengal for the past couple of days, asking party workers to assemble outside the secretariat to protest against the TMC regime’s alleged corrupt practices.