One dead as Bengal police lathicharge, use water cannon on BJP supporters during Siliguri rally

The police action started after BJP supporters, who were a part of a rally, tried to break barricades.?Local reports indicated that protesters also retaliated by throwing stones at the police.

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The police used water cannons and burst tear gas shells to stop the BJP workers from moving ahead, and were pelted with stones by the protesters in return. (Photo: ANI)

One BJP worker died as the Bengal police on Monday used water cannons and tear gas shells on protesters who were part of a BJP rally in West Bengal’s Siliguri.

BJP workers clashed with the police in North Bengal, as they were stopped from moving past barricades at two points near branch secretariat 'Uttarkanya' during their rally in protest against TMC dispensation's "misrule".

Several protesters and police personnel were injured in clashes.

The BJP alleged that a party worker identified as Ulen Ray was "beaten to death" by the police during a baton charge. However, police claimed there was no lathicharge and the cause of death of the protester was being ascertained.

The BJP workers, as part of the 'Uttarkanya Abhijan' called by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), took out two protest marches, alleging that the state government has not fulfilled the promises made to the people of north Bengal, and benefits of the welfare schemes launched by the ruling dispensation have failed to reach the common man.

The police action started after BJP supporters tried to break barricades set up by the authorities. Local reports indicated that protesters also retaliated by throwing stones at the police. Some activists had even set fire to the bamboo barricades set up in the area.

BJP WORKER DIES IN SILIGURI LATHICHARGE, PARTY BLAMES MAMATA BANERJEE

In the ensuing violence, one BJP worker was killed while a number of BJP workers and police personnel have been injured in the incident.

The BJP condemned the police action and demanded imposition of president's rule in West Bengal in view of "breakdown of law and order".

The party has called a 12-hour bandh in north Bengal on Tuesday.

Sharing a video of the deceased, the BJP Bengal unit targetted CM Mamata Banerjee in a tweet. Referring to Mamata Banerjee as 'Pishi' (aunt), the BJP tweeted, "Ulen Roy, the BJP worker, died due to police lathicharge. He was demanding the development of North Bengal. Pishi is the home minister of Bengal and is directly responsible for his death. "

"It is obvious that Pishi resents North Bengal and is targeting those opposed to TMC’s injustice!" the BJP added.

DIDN'T LATHICHARGE, USE FIREARMS AGAINST PROTESTERS: BENGAL POLICE

The West Bengal Police also issued a statement on the clash in Siliguri and said that "serious acts of violence were committed" by the BJP workers.

"Today in Siliguri, serious acts of violence were committed by the supporters of a political party during their protest program. They resorted to arson, brick-batting, firing and vandalism of govt property," the West Bengal Police tweeted.

The police also said that it showed restraint in containing the protest and didn't lathicharge the protesters, as claimed by the BJP. The police maintain that only water cannons and tear gas were used.

"Police showed restraint and didn’t do lathicharge or used firearms. Only water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse the violent crowd," it said.

Speaking on the death of the BJP worker, the West Bengal police said that the body has been sent for post-mortem to determine the actual cause of death.

BJP Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh has claimed that the party worker died due to police firing while the state police have denied using any firearms.

BJP TAKES OUT 2 RALLIES AGAINST TMC 'MISRULE' IN BENGAL

The party's state president, Dilip Ghosh, who led a rally to Fulbari Bazar -- one of the two points approaching the secretariat building -- said the government was "using coercion" as it was scared of BJP's rise in Bengal.

Dilip Ghosh accused the local administration of setting up "a virtual island in Siliguri town by putting up multiple barricades in places to foil a democratic movement."

A second rally, led by party national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and BJYM national unit president Tejaswi Surya, broke the first two layers of the police cordon near Tinbatti more -- about 1 km from Uttarkanya -- but could not past the third.

According to BJP sources, Vijayvargiya and Surya had to be escorted to their vehicles by their personal security guards.

BJP-TMC IN WAR OF WORDS

Talking to reporters later, Kailash Vijayvargiya demanded president's rule in the state, claiming "law and order has collapsed".

"There is criminalisation of police in West Bengal. The way they carried out a brutal attack on peaceful protesters shows the state machinery has been politicised totally," the BJP's West Bengal minder alleged.

Tejaswi Surya alleged police hurled stones and were joined by "TMC goons" who threw crude bombs.

"This 'tanashahi' (dictatorship) cannot continue. We ask all democratic forces to join hands to dislodge this undemocratic, tyrant government."

BJYM state president Saumitra Khan said at least 50 protesters were injured and threatened to launch an agitation against "police atrocity" across the state.

Senior TMC MP Sougata Roy insisted police showed restraint by not resorting to firing despite serious provocation. Roy alleged the BJP was repeatedly trying to create disturbance in the state in the name of democratic movements.

He said though it was unfortunate that many BJP workers were injured, the situation had gone out of control.

In October this year, similar clashes between police and BJP supporters took place during the 'March to Nabanna', the state secretariat in Howrah district.

(with inputs from agencies)