Kolkata: Several BJP workers and police personnel Wednesday sustained injuries during clashes, which broke out between the two sides when the saffron party took out a rally here to protest the spurt in dengue cases.
The BJP leadership claimed that the Mamata Banerjee government had failed to tackle the dengue menace and were trying to ‘hush up’ the figures to avoid criticism.
At least 35 BJP leaders and workers were either arrested or detained during the clash and around 60 members of the saffron camp taken to hospital with injuries, a senior police officer said.
Among those apprehended were BJP state general secretary Raju Banerjee, party leader Badsha Alam and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) state unit president Debjit Sarkar, the officer informed.
Actress Rimjhim Mitra, who recently joined the saffron camp, was also detained by police. Rimjhim on the other hand alleged that there were no women police personnel when she was detained. She alleged that male policemen had caught hold of her hand and pulled her inappropriately.
The protest march, convened by the BJYM, was taken out from Central Avenue in the city and was scheduled to culminate at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters here.
Police, however, had put up a barricade near Chandni Chowk metro station to stop the rally.
According to police sources, they had initially tried to pacify the saffron party activists, asking them to go back. The BJP supporters, however, defied the diktat and moved ahead.
When they were stopped from going past the barricade, the protesters threw water bottles and stones at the police personnel, the sources claimed. In retaliation, police baton-charged the agitators and used water cannon to dispel the crowd, the sources added.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the state government was averse to democratic protests.
“When a small-scale democratic protest, such as the one organised today, is stopped with lathis and water cannon, it becomes apparent that the government is shaky. If needed, we will launch statewide violent protests,” Ghosh said.
“The government is suppressing facts and figures about the dengue menace. Hiding truth will not solve the problem. The West Bengal government should take the Centre’s help to combat the vector-borne disease because people are living in fear,” Ghosh added.
It should be stated here that 44,852 dengue cases have been reported from Kolkata and its adjoining areas, a report of the state Health Department has revealed.
A government official said 25 people have died of dengue in the state since January.