Kolkata: The Nandigram fire spread to Kolkata on Wednesday when activists of a minority forum enforced road blocks across Kolkata and clashed with the police to lodge their protest against the Nandigram violence.
The protesters, who brought Central Kolkata to a standstill, were also demanding immediate deportation of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen from India. The author currently lives in Kolkata.
The protesters clashed with the police and threw brickbats at the police and passing vehicles. More than 150 cars were damaged and two buses were set on fire.
Later in the day, the state government called in the Army to stage a flag march. Curfew has been imposed in certain areas and all schools, colleges and markets have been closed in the violence-hit areas. Kolkata's famous Park Circus has been cordoned off by the police.
"The cause of the protest is Nandigram tension and Tasleema Nasreen. Without any provocation, the police started beating the protestors. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are on the streets now," Minority Front President Shehenshah Jehangir told CNN-IBN.
Traffic was brought to a complete halt on arterial city roads. The AJC Bose road has been blocked from Beckbagan Crossing till Moulali Crossing. CIT Road, too, has been blocked from Don Bosco School to Mullick Bazar crossing.
Kolkata's famous Park Street too has been blocked from St Xavier's to Mullick Bazar. The protesters turned violent and fought pitched battles with police. They also damaged some police vans.
They ransacked the CPI(M) office in East Kolkata and beat up a cameraman of Network18 and destroyed his camera and mic.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Jawed Shamim and several other policemen were injured when the police tried to lift the blockade on the arterial AJC Bose Road.
The police resorted to lathicharge and used teargas to bring the protesters under control. As the situation went out of control. Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed to tame the protesters.
West Bengal Home secretary PR Roy said more than 60 people have been arrested for the violence. " There has been no firing. Only tear gas shells were used and mob was lathicharged," he said.
He confirmed that two CPI-M offices were set on fire by the protesters. "There has been a lot of destruction," Roy said.
The protest was held under the banner of All India Minority Forum. The forum has also been demanding that author Taslima Nasreen be not allowed to renew her visa.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya appealed for peace.
“I appeal to all residents of Nandigram to go back to their own houses. Please ensure that everyone can live a peaceful co-existence. In case of any problem, get in touch with the administration. The administration and panchayat should get together to start redevelopment work,” he said.
Filmmaker Aprana Sen deplored the protest. "We deplore any violence. The artists had made a silent protest. We don’t believe that violence can achieve anything. Many issues are mixed up in this protest. We have been protesting very peaceful against the violence in Nandigram," says director.