M A I N   N E W S

Nandigram boils in Kolkata
Protest over Taslima visa adds to arson
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, November 21
The Army was called in at several places in the city today when the police and the RAF failed to tackle an angry mob indulging in burning police jeeps, government buses, taxis and other vehicles, attacking police parties and damaging public properties.

They were protesting against killings in Nandigram and cancelleation of visa for Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Altogether seven platoons of troops were deployed in seven vulnerable areas. The curfew was also imposed from 10 pm today till 6 am tomorrow at several places at Park Circus, Entally, CIT Road, Rippon Street, Bridge No. 4 and Tapsia-EM bypass areas as a precautionary step. Over 350 persons were arrested in connection with the violent incidents

Today’s Kolkata was the scene, which was often witnessed during the Left parties’ civil disobedience movement in the city in the sixties and seventies over the price rise, tram-bus fare hike and other burning issues. A large-scale violence erupted today when the All India Minority Forum and the Phurphura Sariff were jointly observing a roadblock and chakka jam agitation over the Nandigram issue.

They were also demanding the cancellation of visa of the controversial Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, and her immediate extradition and punishment to people involved in Rizwanur’s mysterious death.

Initially, when the agitation began around 10 am, it was peaceful. But afterwards, the situation suddenly turned violent and public vehicles, buses and taxis were attacked, police jeeps were burnt and policemen and RAF personnel on duty were attacked.

The police failed to control the violent mob. Policemen were attacked with brickbats and lathis. The deputy commissioner, south, Javed Salim, and several other policemen were injured.

The police then resorted to lathi-charge and fired several rounds of teargas shells. But this did not work. The situation deteriorated with anti-social elements and criminals going on rampage. The police and the RAF personnel stood as helpless spectators.

The police chief, G. Chakraborty, said no firing was ordered since it could cause several deaths of innocent people.

The Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, held an urgent meeting with senior officials and reviewed the situation. Since the situation was gradually deteriorating and it was going beyond police control, it was decided to deploy the Army.

Bhattacharjee contacted union home minister Shivraj Patil and apprised him about the whole situation and requested him to send troops for deployment in the city.

Accordingly, the Fort William in Kolkata was contacted and the request was made for sending seven platoons of troops for deployment in Kolkata. At 4 pm, one platoon was rushed to the most vulnerable area at Park Circus, where violence first broke out. Subsequently, the trouble spread to the adjoining places in the central parts. Around 6 pm, the situation was gradually turned peaceful.

Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi expressed concern over the riotous situation in Kolkata. He appealed to all to maintain peace and normalcy.

The Chief Minister criticised the All India Minority Forum for their “irresponsible act”, which disturbed peace and normalcy in Kolkata.

The president of the forum, Edris Ali, however, denied they were involved in violent incidents. He suspected trouble was created by vested interests with an aim to hamper the on-going rightful agitation of the Nandigram people.

When the agitation began around 10 am, the situation was peaceful, but several barricades were raised in the Park Circus, Park Street, Entally, Rippon Street, Alimuddin Street areas by the agitating people, obstructing the entire traffic movement of the city during the busy office hours. Many school vans, which were carrying children to schools in the Park Street-Chowringhee, Park Circus, Ballygune areas, got stranded on the roads due to the jam. Many vehicles carrying patients were also stuck. The Chief Minister had to take another route for attending his office at the Writers Buildings from his Palm Avenue flat in south Kolkata.



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