Parts of Bengal turned into a battlefield on Tuesday as BJP activists clashed with the police during a protest march to the state secretariat.
Several police officers and saffron camp members, including leaders Mina Devi Purohit and Swapan Dasgupta, were reportedly injured in the melee.
Leader of Opposition in Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari, the party's Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee and senior leader Rahul Sinha were among those detained during the march, taken out by the saffron party to protest against the TMC regime’s alleged corrupt practices.
WB | With hundreds of BJP workers heading towards Kolkata to join BJP's Nabanna march via trains, police barricades paths to railway stations— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2022
20 of our workers stopped by police near Durgapur railway station. I reached here using other paths: BJP Leader Abhijit Dutta pic.twitter.com/Sn1zDhKJFP
The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the agitators, who tried to go past the barricades that were put in place at several points in the city and its adjoining areas.
"Everyone got to see how the partisan police tried scuttling a leader of opposition’s democratic right to protest outside Nabanna. I was manhandled by a woman constable, people saw that too," Adhikari told reporters before being whisked away in a prison van.
In Santragachhi, the police were pelted with stones as they chased away the protesters.
A police kiosk was damaged as the demonstrators were stopped from moving forward.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Howrah, Kolkata’s Lalbazar and MG Road areas where violent protesters engaged in a scuffle with the police.
In Lalbazar, a police vehicle was set on fire.
A Kolkata Police officer said "there was no report of any serious injury to any protestors though several police personnel have suffered injuries".
Normal life was disrupted in the city amid the protests, with common people facing huge inconvenience on the thoroughfares, many of which had plunged into chaos.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar staged a sit-in in Howrah after being stopped from carrying forward the rally.
"This autocratic Mamata Banerjee government does not believe in giving space to opposition parties," he said.
Majumdar also claimed that it was a shame that the police were acting in a partisan manner, further claiming that "some of them have turned into puppets of ruling TMC".
The BJP state chief and senior leader Agnimitra Paul were later detained from a protest site at Howrah Maidan.
BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh, who led the protesters near Howrah bridge, left the site in the midst of a lathicharge on his party’s supporters.
"Our fight against this jungle raj will continue," Ghosh said.
BJP state youth wing president Saumitra Khan said "days of the TMC is numbered" and BJP will surely give a reply to all the atrocities committed on party men.
The TMC, in a tweet, said, "BJP4Bengal karyakartas or hooligans?"
"Destroying and damaging government property, attacking police personnel, causing chaos and disrupting peace across the state -- today's activities of BJP that brought shame upon the entire nation. We strongly condemn such outrageous behaviour," the party said in the microblogging site.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh alleged that the BJP was fomenting trouble under the garb of protest.
"It is part of a bigger game plan to destabilise West Bengal this festive season. This is not democratic movement. This is goondaism," he added.
Seven trains were hired by the BJP to bring its supporters from north and south Bengal on Monday for the protest march to 'Nabanna'.
All about the protest march to Nabanna
BJP supporters from across West Bengal started arriving in Kolkata and neighbouring Howrah on Tuesday morning to take part in the saffron party's 'Nabanna Abhijan' (march to secretariat) to protest against alleged corrupt practices of the TMC government.
The BJP has hired several trains - three from north Bengal and four from south Bengal - to bring its party members and supporters from different parts of the state to the metropolis and Howrah for the march.
Traffic restrictions have been put in place along several key stretches of the city in view of the BJP's 'Nabanna Abhijan', police said.
Barricades have also been placed on the Second Hooghly Bridge, which connects the metropolis with Nabanna, a police officer said.
BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh is expected to lead the procession from north Kolkata, while leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari will be part of the rally from Santragachi area.
Party state president Sukanta Majumdar is likely to join the procession in north Kolkata.
"The TMC government is scared of public uprising. Even if they try stop our protest march, we will resist peacefully. The state administration will be responsible for any untoward development," Ghosh asserted.
BJP leader Rahul Sinha, meanwhile, accused the Mamata Banerjee government of trying to forcibly stop the "democratic protest".
"Our supporters were prevented from boarding a special train from Alipurduar to Sealdah on Monday evening and even lathicharged by the state police. The train left later with our activists and supporters," Sinha said.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Joy Prakash Majumdar, however, said the BJP is attempting to create disturbance in the city for its "narrow, partisan politics".
"We urge everyone not to fall in their trap," he said.
The saffron camp has been taking out rallies across the state for the past couple of days, asking party workers to make the 'Nabanna Abhijan' a grand success.
(With PTI Inputs)