Several people, mostly BJP members, were injured as clashes broke out in various parts of West Bengal on Sunday when police sought to stop party activists from taking out “Vijay Sankalp” bike rallies.
Launched by Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Friday, the bike rallies are a part of the party's nationwide outreach campaign ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
However, in West Bengal, the rallies were denied permission because of board examinations and traffic issues, a senior police officer said.
In Kolkata, police intercepted rally participants on Central Avenue, Jorabagan, Kakurgachi and other important points.
In West Medinipur's Goaltore area, BJP activists tried to break police barricades, leading to a baton charge by police and a scuffle, which left several people injured.
The BJP, in a statement, claimed that 40 workers were injured, 22 arrested and 200 bikes vandalised in West Medinipur. In South Dinjapur, 10 were injured, while as many as 176 workers were arrested in Asansol, with two of them seriously injured.
In north Kolkata, 35 workers were taken into custody and 10 workers were badly injured, the statement said.
BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh said if the police and the administration continued to create hindrances to their party programmes, the party would retaliate.
“The workers were deliberately attacked and instigated to retaliate, leading to disruptions on the streets. Police wanted us to resist, so that Trinamool could make it an issue and that is what exactly happened,” Ghosh said.
However, Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee warned the administration would strongly oppose all such efforts to spread communal violence. He said as a political party, the Trinamool would ensure peace and harmony in the state.
“Sometimes, BJP takes out a bike rally, sometimes they spread tension and they only create a ruckus. Today in the name of 'Vijay Sankalp', they planned to create communal tension, against which we are urging the people to remain united,” he said.