The State-wide protests by various mass organisations owing allegiance to the left parties took a violent turn on Thursday when a number of activists got hurt, some of them seriously, when police resorted to a stern lathi charge in Rampur, a nerve centre of many hydel projects in the upper Shimla district.

The trade union and youth activists were protesting against the price rise and the recent bus fare hike of 30 per cent in the State run and private buses all over the State. Some of the photo journalists were also hurt in the milieu and their cameras were snatched by the police.

The Central Committee member of CPI(M) Rakesh Singha has condemned the lathi charge by police and called it a fascist action of the Dhumal-led-BJP Government. This merciless treatment by police on journalists and a peaceful crowd raising a voice of dissent is totally deplorable and unacceptable in a democratic setup, he said.

The party has also criticised the inhuman treatment given to its leader Ashok Negi and the subsequent arrest of more than a dozen activists at Rampur. It has demanded an unconditional release and immediate and free medical treatment to the arrested and injured activists.

There would be a State-wide protest on 20th March against the price rise and bus hike, said Mr Singha before heading for party’s national rally to Delhi on Friday.

Various journalists’ organisations have also condemned the lathi charge by police on some media persons.