KOLKATA: The city turned into a battleground on Monday as several thousand cadres of 11 Left organisations led by 24 Left Front MLAs marched towards State Secretariat Nabanna for 18-point demands, including arrests of TMC leaders accused in Narada scam.
Over 100 Left activists and 79 police personnel were injured in clashes today at various places in the city, Further, 3 journalists were among those injured in lathicharge by the city police.
The protesters violently clashed with Kolkata police personnel in at least five different parts of the city. Though the police had barricaded many routes of the processions, protesters allegedly broke several barricades with bamboo staffs and tree logs and pelted stones at the police, notably at Dufferin Road and Hastings in central Kolkata.
Police claimed that they retaliated with lathi-charge, tear-gas and sprayed water canon on the protesters at Byator locality to prevent protesters from marching towards Nabanna. Several policemen were injured in stone-pelting by Left protesters, they added.
Left leader of Assembly Sujan Chakraborty and four other CPM MLAs were arrested when they tried to enter the Secretariat after reaching the venue on motorbikes. CPM leader Biman Basu sustained injuries on his head while Kanti Ganguly was hit on hip during the lathi-charge on Mayo road in central Kolkata.
Speaking at a presser after the massive violence, CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said: "Today's (Monday) attack exposed the insecurity of the TMC government. 'Nabanna Avijaan' (operation) was a huge success. Our people fought bravely. I have not seen one instance of stone pelting by our cadres."
Another top CPM leader Biman Basu, who was injured on the head during the agitation, demanded the immediate release of the arrested CPM MLAs. "Entering the Secretariat is not a crime. How can they arrest some people for that? " he said.
On the other hand, the TMC apparent heir and Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee said that stone-pelters would be dealt with iron fist. "Those who think that they can make Bengal unstable by pelting stones will be dealt with iron fist of the government," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in Birbhum district and has not commented on the issue.
(Inputs from agencies)