KOLKATA: Clashes broke out between BJP workers and police personnel here on Wednesday during a massive rally organised by the party in protest against post-poll violence and alleged attacks on its workers and supporters.
Hundreds of BJP activists, along with 18 newly elected MPs in the state marched towards Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters from the Wellington area of the city, only to be stunted midway by the police force who fired water cannons and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the mob. Bengal's BJP minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior party leader Mukul Roy also joined the march.
The agitators started the rally from central Kolkata's Subodh Mullick Square and broke a barricade at Ganesh Chandra Avenue, close to 200 meters from entry gate of Lalbazar. The police fired two water cannons to disperse them.
The Rapid Action Force personnel lobbed tear gas shells at the rallyists and resorted to minor baton charge on the Central Avenue to stop them from re-organising the rally.
In retaliation, the saffron party workers raised slogans and hurled stones and bottles at the officers.
A number saffron party leaders and activists, including BJP state General Secretary Raju Banerjee, took ill after tear gas shells landed near them.
"Many of our leaders have taken ill due to tear gas shelling. As many as 50 party workers were arrested by the police, who were released later. We are ending our protest programme for the day, but our agitation against the Mamata Banerjee-led government would continue," West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.
Some of the party workers were seen holding a sit-in demonstration in the area in protest.
"We will continue our protest programme in a peaceful manner. The streets of Kolkata do not belong to Mamata Banerjee alone that she would throttle the democratic movement using her police force. Shame, shame Mamata Banerjee," state BJP leader Jay Prakash Majumdar said.
BJP state General Secretary Raju Banerjee had gone unconscious in the scuffle. He was taken to a hospital.
Earlier in the day, three members of BJP's women wing (Mahila Morcha) were arrested by the police for demonstrating in front of Lalbazar.
Post-poll violence has been reported from various places of West Bengal after the BJP secured 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, just four less than that of the TMC.
Roy Tuesday blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the clashes in North 24 Parganas' Sandeshkhali on Saturday that claimed three lives, and demanded an investigation into the violence by anti-terror probe agency NIA.
Banerjee had earlier accused the BJP of "spreading false information as part of a game plan to topple her government".
(With inputs from PTI)