BJP supporters, anti-CAA group clash at book fair

Scuffle began after activists object to BJP leader’s visit

Published - February 09, 2020 04:14 am IST - Kolkata

Police personnel detaining protesters after a clash broke out at the Kolkata International Book Fair on Saturday.

Police personnel detaining protesters after a clash broke out at the Kolkata International Book Fair on Saturday.

Violence erupted at the International Kolkata Book Fair on Saturday when a group of civil rights activists began protesting against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rahul Sinha who visited the venue. A scuffle broke out between the BJP supporters and protesters against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) when Mr. Sinha visited the stall of the Bharatiya Janbarta.

Police personnel deployed at the venue had to intervene to control the situation. Video footage aired by local television channels showed the protesters, including students, clashing with the police. In some videos, the police are seen beating the protesters. Several protesters were taken into police custody.

Ranajit Sur, vice-president of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, a civil rights organisation, said the police had “deliberately attacked the protesters.”

“Something like this has never happened at the book fair. We had no plans of protests. Only a few people were raising slogans,” Mr. Sur said. Police closed gate number 7, one of the main gates to enter the venue.

Later in the evening, the protesters who were detained allegedly assaulted the police. Videos from Biddhannagar North Police Station, where the protesters were taken after the violence, showed a few protesters assaulting a policewoman.

BJP leader Rahul Sinha said he would not comment on the protesters as it would mean giving them undue credit. “Our fight is with the Trinamool Congress. The people have discarded them [the Left parties]. We are not fools to allow them to steal the limelight by getting into a fight with them,” he said.

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