A day after the West Bengal government announced that Nabanna, the state secretariat building in Howrah, will be shut for two-days for a sanitisation exercise, clashes broke out between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) protesters and the local police. Party workers, led by BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Bangalore South MP Tejaswi Surya were marching to the Bengal secretariat ‘Nabanna’ and reportedly broke the barricades set up by West Bengal Police on Thursday.
— BJP Bengal (@BJP4Bengal) October 8, 2020
Kailash Vijayvargiya has claimed that many BJP workers have been injured but the protest had gone well. He alleged that the police committed excesses and indulged in vandalism, adding that it was the local police who committed violence, lathi charged and indulged in stone pelting.
प.बंगाल में आज भाजपा ने ममता राज की अराजकता के खिलाफ प्रभावी आंदोलन किया। पुलिस की ज्यादती और बर्बरता के सामने BJYM के कार्यकर्ता डटे रहे! पुलिस ने हिंसा की, लाठियां बरसाई, गुंडों से मिलकर पथराव किया! हमारे कई नेता और 1500 कार्यकर्ता घायल हुए, पर हमने ममता सरकार की नींद उड़ा दी! pic.twitter.com/okIfofoyMa
— Kailash Vijayvargiya (@KailashOnline) October 8, 2020
According to a report by the India Today, the massive groups of BJP workers from Kolkata and Howrah began marching towards Nabanna to protest the “worsening” law and order in the state on Thursday afternoon. However, Bengal police blocked the march, and even launched lathi-charge, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the marching BJP workers at Santragachi in Howrah district, stated India Today. Soon images were shared on social media and local leaders called this an attack.
The chaos got worse as BJP workers retaliated and reportedly hurled stones at the police, it was also reported that the mobs set tyres ablaze at Howrah. However, Senior BJP leader Locket Chatterjee accused police of lathi charging BJP workers and said “stone-pelting being done from Khidirpur side. Can’t the police see that?”
It was also reported that some BJP leaders, including BJP state vice- president Raju Banerjee and MP Jyotirmoy Singh Mahato, have reportedly been injured. BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya responded to comments on BJP’s holding this massivemarch even as West Bengal is still battling Covid-19 pandemic, saying “All workers are wearing masks. Are rules only for us? Mamata ji holds demonstrations with thousands and we’re being taught lessons of social distancing. Do the same rules not apply to her?”
आज भाजपा कार्यकर्ता ममताजी के ऑफिस #Nabanno का घेराव करने निकल पड़े हैं। पर पुलिस रवैया व्यवस्था को बिगड़ने से बचाना नहीं, बल्कि विपक्ष की आवाज दबाना है। पुलिस पूरी तरह से #TMC कार्यकर्ता की तरह बर्ताव कर रही है!
… भाजपा कार्यकर्ता नहीं रुकेंगे, अराजक सरकार को उखाड़ फैकेंगे! pic.twitter.com/PFSFIJFowP
— Kailash Vijayvargiya (@KailashOnline) October 8, 2020
We are protesting democratically, but Mamata Ji has tried to turn our peaceful demonstration into a violent protest. Goons along with police pelted stones at us: BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya in Kolkata pic.twitter.com/O9M0dlBQSE
— Oxomiya Jiyori ?? (@SouleFacts) October 8, 2020
This BJP worker protesting in Kolkata tore his own shirt as he neared the cameras to make it look like the cops have beaten him ?
From PMO to the streets, BJP is filled with camera friendly FEKUS who excel in such gimmicks.pic.twitter.com/Zs4bleGbkm
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) October 8, 2020
Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that Mamata Banerjee “tried to turn our peaceful demonstration into a violent protest. Goons along with police hurled stones at us.” According to India Today, the BJP, however, called off their protest after two hours, and even suspended the march for the day. The magazine quoted a local leader stating that “massive protests will be seen in days to come.”
Nabanna and Writers’ Building closures were announced ahead of the BJP’s protest. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too is away from Kolkata and is reported to be on a three-day tour to Midnapore. The govt had issued a notification about the closure of the buildings:
As per a decision taken long back and as per standard periodic regular practices, I am directed to convey that Nabanna and Writers’ Building will be closed for deep cleaning and sanitisation (for Covid-19) on Thursday (08.10.20) and Friday (09.10.20). All officers and employees are requested to stay away from these premises, keeping in mind health and safety protocols, on these two days.
It had also deployed five DIG level officials will be deployed with a police team of more than 1,000 personnel to guard multiple entry routes towards Nabannam stated news reports adding that area around the building is normally a prohibited zone under CrPC Section 144, but this is the first time that the area will be completely closed on a working day, post lockdown. Water cannons, tear gas shells and batons or lathis were also kept ready requirement, by both the Howrah Police and the Kolkata Police, according news reports
It is known that the West Bengal government had cited the Covid-19 pandemic to deny permission for the BJP youth wing’s ‘March to Nabanna’. It had announced that only “peaceful and democratic rallies” of “only 100 people would be allowed” at the moment. And soon enough the state secretariat building in Howrah, was closed “for a two-day sanitisation” drive. However the BJP’s newly appointed Yuva Morcha president Tejasvi Surya said this was done because “Mamata didi is afraid. I have learnt that she has closed the CMO. This is the sign of a real ‘paribartan’ (change) in Bengal and this is being led by the patriotic youth of the state and the rest of the country is with them.”
Surya told the media that the Bengal government was citing the Covid-19 situation to deny permission for the BJYM march, but the Trinamool Congress supremo had herself led a rally against the farm bills a couple of days ago. He added that Mamata ji is a living example of “what a Fascist government looks like.”