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In Photo: CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra at the R R Avenue rally in Kolkata before the clash with police began.

By A Newsman

Kolkata, 27 August: SOME streets in central Kolkata, Howrah, and Satragachi turned into battlefields on Thursday afternoon as police and the supporters of Left parties clashed during a protest march to Bengal state secretariat Nabanna at the call of the Left peasant wings.

Ten policemen and over 35 Left workers, including Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose, have been injured in the melee. A water-cannon of the police in Howrah has been damaged by the Left protesters.

The near three-hour trouble that began around 12.30 on Thursday afternoon, resulted in suspension of traffic along Red Road, Mayo Road, Dufferin Road, Second Hooghly Bridge Road in central Kolkata, Foreshore Road, Mandirtala Road in Howrah and the Kona Expressway at Satragachi.

Ripple effect of this caused long traffic snarls on Central Avenue, S N Banerjee, J L Nehre Road and Park Circus, with scores of people getting stranded for hours altogether.

Vice President Hamid Ansari who reached the city on an official tour and landed at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club ground in the afternoon, had to take a detour via Strand Road to reach the Raj Bhavan as the protesters squatted on Red Road.

The trouble started between 12.30 to 1.20 pm on Thursday after thousands of Left supporters tried to march to Bengal state secretariat Nabanna by breaking police barricades following a pre-announced protest march convened by the peasants wings of various Left parties.

The Left peasant wings have convened the protest march on a 17-point charter of demands that include ensuring minimum support price for paddy procurement from farmers, providing work under 100 Day’s job scheme and curbing the growing crime against women in the state.

The first incident was reported from Foreshore Road in Howrah where a policeman was injured in stone pelting after the cops pushed back Left supporters who were trying to move forward by toppling a barricade near Coal Depot More. Police retaliated with lathi-charge and charged water cannon as well. Irate protesters later damaged the water cannon.

Soon trouble began at Dufferin Road in central Kolkata as Left marchers tried breaking the barricades put up by police to stop the marchers. Police eventually took to lathi-charge and this irked the Left marchers who retaliated with stone and brick pelting targeting the uniform brigade.

Some policemen were injured in the stone pelting and this made the police to make a retreat but only to return with a counter stone-pelting and a massive lathi-charge that did not spare women, aged persons and journalists. Bengal Left Front chairman, 75-year old Biman Bose, suffered a stone on his head; a policeman also allegedly showered lathis on him as he was trying to contain the situation.

Similar skirmish between police and the Left protesters took place at Kona Expressway Point at Satragachi after cops stopped the protesters from marching ahead. Unable to contain the protesters, police charged water cannons at them even as crude bombs were thrown on a lane next the one that the protesters had taken.

Police had put up barricades on all the entry points to state secretariat Nabanna in Howarah even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was out as she was scheduled to fly down from Darjeeling later in the afternoon. At Mandirtala near Nabanna, some Left protesters got into a skirmish with police when the latter stopped them from marching ahead.

Bengal PHE minister and Trinamool leader Subrata Mukherjee alleged that some ex-Maoists were present in the Left rally and a plan had been drawn in advance to create chaos and anarchy. “We will deal with such anarchists movement both politically and administratively,” he told a Press conference at Trinamool Bhavan.

Kolkata Police’s joint CP (headquarters) Rajiv Mishra said that it was the Left supporters who first pelted stones at the police. Suo motu FIRs were being registered against Left workers involved in the clash, he said.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra countered this saying that the police today acted like armed goons of the Trinamool Congress and had beaten up Left supporters without any provocation.

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