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4 Jan 2017

Backlash on BJP office

Sudip Bandyopadhyay being taken to Bhubaneswar.
Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Debraj Mitra and Pronab Mondal, TT, Jan. 3: Trinamul supporters protesting the arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay besieged the central Calcutta lane housing the state BJP headquarters this evening, triggering a stones-and-sticks battle that choked traffic for hours.
The BJP said 12 party workers were injured. Two policemen, including an officer from the Jorasanko police station, were also hurt. The windshields of several cars, mostly belonging to BJP functionaries and parked in the narrow Maurali Dhar Sen lane off Central Avenue, were broken.
Prevented from reaching the BJP office, the Trinamul supporters squatted along a stretch of the flank for southbound traffic on the thoroughfare. The stretch between BB Ganguly Street and MG Road was closed to traffic for almost four hours from 4.40pm.The other flank, too, was hit.
A car damaged in the stone-throwing in front of the
Bengal BJP headquarters. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
As the news of the arrest broke, Trinamul supporters started gathering in Muralidhar Sen Lane. What was initially a motley group of around 20 led by a student leader swelled into an assembly of around 500.
The Trinamul supporters raised slogans and threw stones at the BJP office. A handful of BJP workers came out with sticks but, outnumbered, were forced to retreat.
A small team of policemen present at the BJP office called for reinforcements. As the crowd swelled, police teams from various stations in north and central Calcutta arrived, barricading both ends of the lane - one opening onto Central Avenue and the other behind the Eden Hindu Hostel.
At frequent intervals, stones flew in from both the ends, where Trinamul supporters had positioned themselves. Shops downed shutters. Doors and windows in the neighbourhood were slammed shut.
Bricks landed on Amitava Roy, a state BJP secretary, and Pradip Singhania, a youth wing functionary. Both were taken to the nearby Calcutta Medical College and Hospital with head injuries.
Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary and former state president, complained about "inadequate police deployment".
Two CRPF men, deployed for Sinha's security, sought reinforcements. Ten more CRPF men arrived and stood guard in front of the main entrance to the BJP office.
Around 7.30pm, Trinamul MLA Swarnakamal Saha arrived and conveyed a message from the leadership that the demonstration had to be peaceful.
The blockade was lifted around 8.20pm after Saha announced that protest programmes would be held across wards in the city between noon and 3pm tomorrow.

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