KOLKATA: Violence broke out in different parts of Kolkata and some districts of West Bengal on Thursday when Congress supporters, some armed with sticks, went on the rampage. They attacked buses and put up roadblocks. At least three buses were set ablaze in the city.
The party supporters were protesting the attack on a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) team at Mangalkot in Bardhaman district on Wednesday.
The State Congress leadership has called a 12-hour State-wide bandh for Friday. It blamed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for Wednesday’s incident. It appealed to the Trinamool Congress to support the bandh call.
Commuters were inconvenienced by traffic snarls caused by the sudden blockades put up at nearly 40 different places. Train services were also affected as the protesters squatted on rail track at several places. Suburban services in both the Howrah and Sealdah divisions had been disrupted since early morning and were resumed only after 10 a.m.
Deputy Commissioner of Police I (Detective Department) Javed Shamim said 143 persons, including 52 women, were arrested in the city.
Violence was also reported from the districts, in some of which the Congress had called a bandh.
In Bardhaman district, Congress supporters clashed with the police near Burmud village and torched a police jeep. Two persons were arrested.
State Police Inspector-General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said eight persons were arrested for their involvement in Wednesday’s attack.
Congress supporters torched vehicles and put up blockades in Howrah, North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad and Cooch Behar also.
The Congress demanded the immediate removal of the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police of Bardhaman for their failure to provide protection to the MLAs who visited Mangalkot. It demanded the arrest of those responsible for the attack.
Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarty said the government was inquiring into the incident and action would be taken against any errant official.
In Kolkata, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said he was ready for talks with the Opposition to sort out any problem, but bandhs did not solve anything.
“I do not know what solution Friday’s bandh will bring,” said Mr. Bhattacharjee, who earlier on Thursday discussed the Mangalkot incident with CLP leader Manas Bhunia,who was among those attacked.
“It was a positive discussion and this is the way to find solutions,” he said.
Commenting on the absence of the Opposition in the Assembly, (both the Trinamool and the Congress had staged separate walkouts separately over the Mangalkot incident), Mr. Bhattacharjee said ominous clouds were gathering over the State.