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Bengal: 1 Dead, 50 Injured, Thousands Arrested in Law Violation Programmes Across Districts

Police indiscriminately fired tear gas shells at protesting workers and farmers, resulting in the tragic death of Anarul Islam.



Kolkata: Pitched battles erupted in the streets on February 13 as workers, joined by farmers, took to the streets to carry out law violation programmes across all 20 districts in West Bengal.

In Baharampur of Murshidabad district, police indiscriminately fired tear gas shells at protesters, resulting in the tragic death of Anarul Islam (53), a resident of Domkol, who reportedly died due to the toxic effects of the gas. Additionally, approximately 20 more protesters were injured in Baharampur as police resorted to baton charges against unarmed demonstrators.

In Kolkata, protesters marched from Bamboo Villa to Nizam Palace, denouncing the implementation of four labour codes, non-payment of Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers, pending wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), escalating electricity bills, and opposing the new Nyay Sanghita bill, which they argue is detrimental to drivers' interests.

As thousands participated in the rally, slogans reverberated throughout the route. At Nizam Palace, from a truck-mounted podium, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) state president Subhas Mukherjee commended the working class for the successful execution of the programme. He highlighted the adverse impact of the Narendra Modi government's policies, as well as those of the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, on the lives of ordinary citizens.

“Rising inflation, coupled with the erosion of job security due to the introduction of four new labour codes and the escalating cost of electricity, were among the grievances aired during the February 13 demonstration,” he told NewsClick.

In Siliguri, a massive rally traversed Hillcart Road, overcoming police barricades, with the presence of CITU leaders Saman Pathak and Goutam Ghosh.

In North 24 Parganas, at Barasat, CITU state secretary Anadi Sahoo, Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, Gargee Chatterjee, and Somnath Bhattacharya participated in the law violation programme, joined by thousands of demonstrators.

Similarly, in Howrah district's Uluberia, thousands participated the protest, and some were subsequently arrested. Such programmes also took place in Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Malda, North and South Dinajpur, Birbhum, East and West Medinipur, Durgapur, Asansol, Hooghly, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, and Nadia district.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M) West Bengal secretary Mohd Salim, who participated in the law violation programme in Baharampur, where clashes and tear gas shelling occurred, criticised the actions of the police. He asserted that the conduct of the West Bengal Police mirrored that of police in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states, condemning their unprovoked baton charges against unarmed protesters seeking justice.

Salim lamented the absence of magistrates to oversee the rally and called for a condemnation day on February 14 to protest the alleged cold-blooded murder of 53-year-old Anarul Islam by police. He also criticised the involvement of district magistrates (DM) and superintendents of police (SP) in the Chief Minister's programmes, contrasting it with the spontaneous participation of people in the law violation programme, driven by a sense of deprivation among the working class, workers, and farmers under both the BJP and state governments. Salim decried the police's heavy-handed tactics, asserting that they were suppressing dissenting voices against unjust policies.

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