35 Injured as BJP Cadres Clash With Police During Rally

35 Injured as BJP Cadres Clash With Police During Rally
Nearly 35 persons, including senior party leaders and policemen, were injured as BJP cadres today clashed with security personnel after being prevented from marching to the State Assembly, prompting them to use force to disperse protesters who gave a call for a bandh on March 2 against what they called police atrocities.

Trouble broke out when party workers were proceeding to the Vidhan Sabha after their 'maharally' against soaring prices at Julelal Park had been addressed by senior party leaders including former president Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Lalji Tandon, police said.

Several people, including policemen, were injured in the confrontation which spurred the cadres led by senior party leaders, to stage a sit-in against what they termed as police excesses and atrocities inflicted on them during their peaceful agitation.

Talking to reporters, former party president Rajnath Singh accused the police of using "excessive" force injuring several workers some of whom, he said, have received bullet injuries, a claim which was yet to be confirmed.

"The dharna would continue indefinitely to press for action against the guilty police personnel and officials", Singh said.

In retaliation, police used water cannons and fired tear gas shells besides launching a lathi-charge to chase away the demonstrators.

However, a senior police officer denied that they used excessive force, adding that they had to use mild force to stop the BJP workers when they forcibly tried to proceed towards the Vidhan Sabha and started pelting stones on the police personnel.

Meanwhile, BJP's state President Ramapati Ram Tripathi gave a bandh call on March 2 to protest against police action even as party workers were taken into custody by police and detained at the rally ground.

"Police pelted party workers with stones, used water cannon and tear gas. There are reports that some party workers have sustained bullet injuries and are admitted to the hospital," Rajnath told reporters.

"Despite my appeal to policemen to stop pelting stones on the party workers they continued with the act. I demand that guilty officers and policemen should be suspended," he said.

"Mayawati wants to teach everyone a lesson, but I want to tell her that from now onwards BJP's struggle would intensify. We are ready to take bullets," he said.

Senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi alleged that police unnecessarily used force on the party workers, whereas national vice-president Naqvi termed the incident as barbaric and undemocratic.

Appealing to party workers to exercise self-restraint, Rajnath said that the Chief Minister wanted to give a wrong message by provoking the BJP cadre.

However, ADG law and order, Brij Lal said that some 100 to 150 BJP workers indulged in unprovoked brick batting on police team which stopped them from moving ahead.

The BJP had been asked to stage dharna at Jhule Lal park and not move ahead but party workers attempted to march forward and police tried to stop them from doing so, he said.

Rejecting claims that police resorted to lathi-charge and indulged in excesses, Brij lal said that besides water cannon and some 26 tear gas shells, only three to four rubber bullets were fired to disperse the crowd.

He said that an additional superintendent of police was also injured in the clash.
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