Kolkata: The protest march called by Left youth and student organisations to Nabanna (state secretariat), demanding jobs, ended in indiscriminate lathi-charge by police, leaving about a 100 protesters hospitalised and about 150 injured in Kolkata on Thursday.
Enraged by the police action, the Left parties and Congress have called for a state-wide 12-hour bandh on Friday in protest against lathi-charge on the youth march, as also on protesting para-teachers recently.
According to eye-witnesses, the lathi-charge took place when the huge march, which began from College Street, was stopped by police on SN Banerjee Road in the Esplanade area. Police had put up heavy metal barricades, which the protesters tried to climb to continue with their march but were sprayed with water cannons. Later, the police fired teargas shells, followed by lathi-charge, leaving several protesters seriously injured, including Sayandip Mitra, state secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI)
Left Front Chairman Biman Basu, on behalf of Left parties and Congress, decried Kolkata Police for using “excessive force” on students and youth.
As per reports, about 150 protesters were injured, 100 have been hospitalised and have suffered serious injuries, and about 500 arrests have been made.
The aim of the police was to inflict maximum injuries on the youths and students who were marching, instead of simply dispersing the crowd, said some DYFI and Students Federation of India (SFI) activists.
Entire Central Kolkata was paralysed, as hounded by the police, the protesters fought back in many areas, including at Dorina Crossing, they regrouped and again faced a rampaging police force in defiance.
Earlier in the day, Ibrahim Ali, a CPIM) legislator was arrested for trying to lead a deputation straight to the Chief Minister in Nabanna.
Later, in a rally, student and youth leaders from Left parties and Congress gave a call to protest against the “draconian” state government . They also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government for the treatment meted protesting farmers in New Delhi. “Both BJP and TMC are the same when it comes to tormenting people.” they said.
The massive march was held after a confluence of four marches from different points -- Sealdah , Howrah Station , Hedua and College Street – and proceeded toward Rani Rashmoni Avenue. They had barely walked 3 km when the police stopped them from all sides, Following resistance by the protesters, clashes took place and the entire area looked like a battleground.
While the police used fibre batons water cannons and tear gas, the students and youth fell back on the flags they were carrying. Soon, ambulances could be seen rushing in and out, transporting injured protesters.
The march was the culmination of a month-long campaign DYFI, SFI and other Left organisations across the state demanding jobs and industrialisation. On Thursday, the protesting DYFI members also conducted the symbolic inauguration of the Singur and Shalboni projects , called for employment in West Bengal.