Left parties in West Bengal have called for a 12-hour bandh across the state on Friday to protest a police crackdown on students and youth marching towards Nabanna, the state secretariat, on Thursday.
While processions converged from several points across Kolkata and Howrah, the crackdown was most severe at Dorina Crossing, in the heart of Kolkata, at the crossing of Chowringhee and SN Banerjee road. Several protesters, including women, were injured when police used batons on them.
The West Bengal government has opposed the bandh call and issued a notice saying all employees must attend office. No casual leave will be granted and traffic disruption will not be accepted as an excuse. Absence will mean loss of pay.
The police claimed protesters tried to storm barricades and would not back down despite warnings, forcing them to launch teargas, water cannons and the use batons. Protesters say the use of force was brutal and unprecedented.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose said the police action was “Jallianwala Bagh-like” when the whole city was barricaded and cornered protesters attacked.
After the crackdown, the police rescued the injured and rushed them to hospital. CPM leader Md Salim claimed 500 protesters were injured. The police say about 20.
According to Md Salim, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front, recently founded by Pirzada Abbas Siddique of Furfura Sharif, are backing the 12-hour bandh.