Protesting "worsening law and order situation" in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party's state unit took out a protest march to the state secretariat Nabanno on Thursday.
The protest march started at 12 noon from four different points -- state BJP's headquarters on the Central Avenue, Hastings, Howrah Maidan and Santragachi.
Things turned feisty as BJP workers tried to breakdown the barrier put in place by the West Bengal Police. Meanwhile, firearms were reportedly recovered from a BJP worker at Howrah Maidan.
Sounds of crude bombs were also heard as supporters clashed with the police. The CRPF’s Rapid Action Force was also present at the spot.
The BJP leadership in the state has claimed that the march would comprise over a few lakhs of saffron supporters. People were expected to arrive from various districts and assemble at the four starting points.
The "Nabanna Abhiyan" has been called by the BJP Yuva Morcha, the youth arm of the party.
There are four rallies that have been taken out:
Rally from BJP state headquarters in Central Kolkata led by BJP state President Dilip Ghosh
Rally from Hastings led by BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya
Rally from Howrah maidan led by BJP national secretary Tejasvi Surya
Rally from Santragachi led by BJP state general secretary Sayantan Banerjee
BJP youth arm activists staged a protest programme near Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's residence at Kalighat earlier in the day chanting 'Jai Shree Ram' slogans. BJP supporters were also stopped at Dankuni in Kolkata's neighbouring Hooghly district. The police had to resort to mild baton charge to disperse the gathering.
The protest march is part of the BJP's strategy and final push against the ruling Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, as the state assembly election is due in April-May next year.
The Mamata Banerjee-led state government on Wednesday though announced that the building will remain shut for two days, on October 8 and 9, "for Covid-19 sanitization drive" .
Huge contingent of police and rapid action force (RAF) have been deployed in and around Nabanno area to control any untoward incident during the protest march.
The police officials have been seen carrying out aerial surveillance using drone devices in various entry points. According to sources, about 2,000 police personnel have been deployed only in Kolkata.
Adequate number of water cannons and iron barricades are kept on stand-by near the state secretariat building and a steel wall has also been erected to stop irate protesters from breaching the security cover, police said. The entire area has been cordoned off by the bamboo barricades.
"We are a responsible political party and we will be holding a peaceful protest march. I do not understand why the state government has made so many security arrangements in and around Nabanno," said BJP leader Sayantan Basu.
The state BJP leadership also termed the decision of closing down Nabanno as a reflection of the Trinamool Congress' fear.