KOLKATA: Several Left activists including CPI(M) Politburo member Biman Bose and 25 policemen were injured as Left Front supporters today fought a pitched battle with the police when the cops tried to stop their march to the state secretariat.
The Police resorted to lathicharge, used water canons and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the agitating Left Front activists.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Kolkata Police, Rajiv Mishra told reporters that 25 police officers including Special Commissioner-II and two Deputy Commissioners of Police were injured in the clashes and were admitted to different hospitals.
"Left activists acted in a pre-planned manner as they carried stones and brickbats," Mishra said adding, 2,500 police personnel were deployed and they acted in a restrained manner.
To a question, he said the police were forced to resort to lathicharge to control the unruly crowd.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose said he was injured and alleged that the police behaved as "volunteers of the Trinamool Congress."
"More than 110 LF activists are injured and admittedto hospitals. Many women activists too were injured in the police lathicharge. Old people were also not spared. We condemn this barbaric act by the police on a peaceful protest march," senior LF leader Manoj Bhattacharya said.
The CPI(M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) along with ten other Left Front affiliated peasant fronts organised the march to the secretariat, Nabanna, in support of their 17-point charter of demands including issues such as farmer suicides and rehabilitation of farmers affected by the recent floods in the state.
Slamming the Leftists, senior Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee said "It was nothing but hooliganism. We strongly condemn it. They attacked the police in a pre-planned way."
He claimed Biman Bose was injured in brickbats thrown by his own party men.
Police sources in Howrah said they had erected barricades at one end of Foreshore Road to stop the protesters from marching towards the state secretariat.
The protesters tried to break the barricades andengaged in scuffling with the police and stones were also thrown at the police, they said.
The police first used water cannons to disperse theprotesters and later lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge.
Vehicular traffic in large parts of Howrah came to acomplete halt as Foreshore Road and Kona Expressway, two major thoroughfares, were blocked due to the protests.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who arrived from Darjeeling, visited the injured policemen in the state-run SSKM hospital.
The Left peasants activists assembled at four points, two in Kolkata - Rani Rashmoni Road and Kidderpore - and two in Howrah district where the secretariat was located.
The rally was led by the state Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and other Left leaders from Rani Rashmoni Road and Red Road areas.
"The farmers of the state are committing suicide due to the indifference of the state government and the ChiefMinister is busy organising festivals and going abroad. We are not going to Nabanna to take over the state secretariat. We are going there to place our demands for the sake of the farmers of the state," Mishra, also the CPI(M) state secretary, said.
Left leaders claimed several protesters includingwomen and the aged were injured in lathicharge following which the crowd started pelting stones.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Police lodged an FIR suo motu at the Maidan Police Station against unknown persons in connection with their "battle" with Left activists.
Kolkata Police officials said three persons were detained for being allegedly involved in the scuffle with the police.