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Kolkata: Clash breaks out between ISF demonstrators and police, several injured – Watch

Kolkata: Indian Secular Front (ISF) activists fought a pitched battle with the police at Esplanade area in central Kolkata on Saturday during a protest against alleged attacks on their workers by the ruling Trinamool Congress in South 24 Parganas district. The demonstration threw the traffic out of gear around the key Jawarharlal Nehru Road crossing. The sole ISF MLA Naushad Siddique, who was leading the protest, was detained, as a number of police personnel and agitators were injured. A senior police official said the activists blocked an arterial road in the heart of the city, prompting the cops to request them to clear Jawaharlal Nehru Road and allow traffic movement. However, the workers of the party, which was formed before the 2021 assembly election, refused to vacate the road demanding that the perpetrators behind the attacks on its activists at Bhangar be arrested first.

As police baton-charged the workers and lobbed tear gas shells, the demonstrators numbering around 500 retreated but pelted the cops with stones from nearby lanes, injuring several police personnel. The protestors also damaged kiosks and guardrails of the police injuring several policemen, the official said.

A strong police contingent, comprising RAF and armed policemen, was deployed in the area. Several top police officers rushed to the spot to control the mob. After about an hour, the police managed to clear the road and chased away the protestors but stray incidents of stone pelting continued for some time. Commuters, who were hiding in shops with their shutters down came out raising their hands.

Siddique, before his detention, deplored police ‘inaction’ at Bhangar and the ‘high-handedness’ of the force in Esplanade by turning on “peaceful protestors”. A day back, ISF party offices were burnt down in Bhangar allegedly by TMC workers. The ruling party in turn claimed that the ISF destabilised the situation in the area by bringing in armed men and attacking their supporters for the past few days.

ISF is the only opposition party other than BJP to have won a seat in the 2021 West Bengal assembly election. Its allies, the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress failed to bag any seat. The party was formed by Abbas Siddiqui, an influential Muslim cleric of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district, in February of that year.

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