Large parts of Howrah and central Kolkata turned into a battle zone on September 13 as clashes erupted between the police and supporters of the BJP after the latter tried to march to the State Secretariat ‘Nabanna’ building.
Thousands of BJP supporters had descended on the streets of Kolkata and Howrah and were trying to reach the State Secretariat from different sides. BJP State president Sukanta Majumdar was detained and taken to Chitpur police station.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari and Hooghly Lok Sabha MP Locket Chatterjee were detained by police before they could reach Howrah and lead a rally of party supporters.
Violence erupted in Santragachi in Howrah, where the police fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse BJP supporters who pelted stones at the police. The situation at Santragachi remained volatile for several hours, with pitched battles between the police and BJP supporters.
Like Santragachi, violence erupted at Howrah Maidan and Howrah Railway Station. In Kolkata, the police had to use force near the Lalbazar Police headquarters and M.G. Road. BJP supporters set a police vehicle on fire in Kolkata’s busy M.G Road area.
The police, which had made elaborate arrangements to disperse the mob, used water cannons to disperse the BJP supporters but within minutes the saffron party supporters regrouped and pelted stones at the police.
BJP State president Sukanta Majumdar was detained and taken to the Chitpur Police Station. Mr. Majumdar, who spent the night at Howrah Railway Station to evade police action, held demonstrations at Howrah Maidan. “ Didi [Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee] is scared seeing so many BJP supporters on the road. This is only 30% of the people we had asked to come; many could not reach and several others have been detained by the police,” Mr. Majumdar said.
Several BJP supporters were detained by the police and some also sustained injuries. Some policemen sustained injuries in the stone pelting.
There was violence near BJP State headquarters at Muralidhar Sen Lane, when a large contingent of police tried to apprehend the BJP supporters. Seveal BJP MPs including party’s national vice-president Dilip Ghosh were among those who joined the march to State Secretariat which was a major show of strength by the West Bengal BJP.
The violence and pitched clashes between BJP supporters continued for several hours after 12 noon throwing traffic out of gear in large parts of Howrah and Kolkata. Vehicular traffic on Howrah Bridge which connects Howrah to Kolkata over river Hooghly was stopped for several hours in the afternoon. Commuters were seen walking on foot on the Howrah Bridge and other parts of central Kolkata.
The BJP had called the march to the State Secretariat to protest against “corruption of the Trinamool Congress” particularly after the arrest of two of the ruling party heavyweights Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not at the State Secretariat and is on an administrative tour to the districts of south Bengal.