On the second day of the youth long march organised by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), West Bengal police attacked the protesters as they peacefully marched towards Nabanna, the West Bengal secretariat located in Howrah. The police lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to lathi charge in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
Talking to NewsClick, SFI all India General Secretary Mayukh Biswas said, “Hundreds of people who were participating in the march have been injured. The police violently attacked the protesters in an attempt to curb the rally. Also, Mamata Banerjee’s goons got into the surrounding houses and threw bricks at the protesters, injuring them gravely.” He added, “They cannot stop us like this. Their attacks on us will only increase our strength. They will not let us reach Nabanna, so we are blocking the Howrah Bridge. They cannot use violence to stop our fight.”
Thousands of youth had started marching from Singur, the site of the abandoned Tata Nano car plant, demanding education and employment for all. The march, which has been organised by SFI and DYFI, along with 12 other left unions, had reached Howrah station on the evening of September 12.
Also read: Thousands of Youths Rally in West Bengal, Demanding Education and Employment
The rally was resumed on the morning of September 13, and was supposed to culminate at noon at Nabanna, which is located at a distance of just four kilometres from Howrah station. Security had been tightened in the region in anticipation of the march, and the police had erected barricades along the road to stop the protesters. As the rally made its way towards Nabanna, the people were met with police barricades and lathi charges.
The attacks by the police and TMC goons injured numerous people and angered the protesters even more, and they decided to block the Howrah bridge in protest of the violence inflicted upon them. Biswas said, “We had anticipated that there will be barricades, but we did not expect them to attack us so violently. This shows that the state government is scared of us.”
The march was organised with the demands of transparent admission procedures in all educational institutions, democratic students’ union elections in all university and college campuses, recruitment of people in vacant posts across the state, employment for all, industrialisation in the state, and unemployment allowance for the people struggling to find jobs.
Addressing the crowd in the public meeting organised before the march started from Singur, Sujan Bhattacharya, West Bengal State Secretary of DYFI, had said “The TMC government, led by Mamata Banerjee, is completely anti-students and anti-youth. The government has destroyed the democracy in university campuses. There are no jobs. The admission procedure in public-funded universities and the selection process for government jobs, are both full of corruption. This is what our fight is against.”
Also watch: Safeguard Public Education, Demands SFI