Lucknow, Feb 25 (Calcutta Tube) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists clashed with police in Lucknow and Chandigarh Thursday when their protest against the central government’s failure to contain rising prices turned violent.
In the Uttar Pradesh capital, police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse the protesters, who threw stones at the security personnel. Police were trying to stop the protesters from marching towards the state assembly complex.
Police claimed no one was injured in the incident, but the opposition party alleged a large number of party workers sufferd serious injuries after police baton charged them.
‘We are getting calls from several hospitals, where hundreds of our workers were admitted after they received serious injuries in police lathi-charge and other violent methods adopted against us by the security personnel,’ Pankaj Singh, son of former BJP president Rajnath Singh, told reporters.
Rajnath Singh told reporters: ‘Our’s is a democratic country, still police today (Thursday) behaved in an autocratic manner to suppress our peaceful demonstration… Police threw stones at our leaders and also resorted to force against them without any reason. Even I had to use a chair as a cover to protect myself from police.’
Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that police atrocities against the party workers reflected ‘the inhumane nature of the government that prompted police to resort to violence against our party workers who were carrying out peaceful demonstrations’.
Led by senior leaders Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Vinay Katiyar, BJP workers from across the state converged at the Jhule Lal Vatika in Lucknow to participate in a ‘Maha rally against inflation, corruption’.
After senior leaders addressed them, party workers armed with saffron flags marched towards the state assembly complex but were stopped by police. Agitated party workers then started clashing with police and tried to force their way through the barricades.
Venting their ire against the security personnel, agitated BJP workers even manhandled Superintendent of Police (Trans-Gomti) Paresh Pandey after holding him captive for some time.
Pandey could only be rescued after the intervention of Rajnath and other party leaders, who appealed to the BJP workers to release the police officer.
Meanwhile, the state BJP unit has announced plans to observe Feb 26 as Black day to protest the police actions against party workers.
To protest the police action and the alleged autocratic functioning of the BSP government, the BJP has called for a state-wide bandh March 2.
In Chandigarh also, led by Haryana BJP president Krishna Pal Gurjar, party workers held a protest rally and raised slogans against the UPA government.
The protesters turned violent when police stopped them from moving towards the Haryana Raj Bhavan, official residence of state Governor Jagannath Pahadia.
‘They were not listening to us and were disturbing the law and order situation of the area. Therefore, we used mild force to control them. We have also arrested 35 of them,’ said a police officer.
Over 200 BJP workers from various parts of Haryana gathered here Thursday on a call given by Gurjar to protest the UPA government failure to control rising prices of general commodities.
‘We just wanted to meet the governor and to submit our memorandum to him. But Chandigarh police started pushing and misbehaving with us. They have mercilessly beaten our party workers and during the melee scores of our party workers have sustained serious injuries,’ said Gurjar, who was also arrested by the police.