Violence erupted at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district and in Kolkata on Saturday as supporters of the Indian Secular Front ( ISF) clashed with the Trinamool Congress and the police. Supporters of the ISF had gathered on January 21, 2023 morning at Bhangar to participate at a rally in Kolkata to observe the foundation day of the party when violence broke out during the clash between the supporters of both parties.
The ISF supporters alleged that members of the Trinamool Congress led by Arabul Islam attacked them. For several minutes the supporters of both parties hurled each other with stones, and chased each other with sticks. Shops and commercial establishments were also attacked at Bhangar.
The violence at Bhangar spilled to Esplanade in the heart of Kolkata when the ISF supporters led by its MLA Naushad Siddique arrived at the rally venue. Mr. Siddique and the ISF supporters held demonstrations demanding the arrest of Arabul Islam. The situation turned volatile and soon the supporters of ISF blocked traffic. There was chaos for almost half an hour until police personnel arrived to the spot.
The police resorted to lathicharge and fired tear gas shells in an attempt to disperse the mob which had blocked traffic. The police also dragged Mr. Siddique into a vehicle and later arrested him. Esplanade looked like a battle zone with pitched battles between the police and the ISF supporters. A police control room was also attacked by the ISF supporters.
“Some of their supporters started attacking the police, following which we had to use mild force and tear gas shells. 17 persons, including Naushad Siddique, have been arrested and charged for attack on police personnel, damage to public property, brick batting and rioting,” Kolkata Police Commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal told journalists. The Commissioner added that 19 police personnel including senior officers have suffered injuries in the violence.
The violence has also created political ripples. ISF founded by Furfura Sharif Imam Abbas Siddique ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls has only non-Trinamool and BJP MLA in the West Bengal Assembly. Mr. Siddique, who is Abbas Siddique’s brother, represents Bhangar Assembly seat. The ISF had allied with Left and Congress in the 2021 Assembly election. Clashes between the ISF and the Trinamool at Bhangar have been reported several times in the past.
After the violence on Saturday, BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari urged the ISF leaders including Naushad Siddique, to join hands and fight Trinamool Congress.