Kolkata: Police lobbed teargas shells and baton charged stone-pelting BJP activists on Tuesday as the party`s attempted blockade of the Writers` Buildings, the West Bengal state secretariat, turned violent.
Several policemen and BJP supporters were injured as the activists fought pitched battles with the security personnel, turning a part of central Kolkata into a virtual battlefield.
"Some BJP activists have been arrested. Suddenly some people turned violent and began throwing bombs and stones, many of which were targeted at policemen. Some policemen were also injured," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Neeraj Kumar Singh.
Traffic movement came to a halt in the busy Brabourne Road and Bowbazar crossings in the commercial hub of the city due to the violence.
The trouble started as a large number of BJP activists, who had gathered at four points as part of the agitation, tried to proceed towards the secretariat by breaking barricades put up by police on Brabourne Raod close to the city police headquarters at Lalbazar.
As stones rained down on the police, they first tried to chase the workers away, then resorted to a heavy baton charge and finally lobbed teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
Many BJP workers were seen scuffling with the police, who finally managed to scatter them.
BJP state president Rahul Sinha, who was himself injured, described the police action as "unprovoked". "Our agitation was completely peaceful. Suddenly police started baton charging, and bursting teargas shells. Over 100 of our supporters were injured, and 25 of them had to be hospitalised," he said.
Sinha alleged that police "resorted to violence" as they wanted to disperse the BJP workers before a scheduled rally of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee later in the afternoon in a nearby area.
The blockade was organised to protest against rising unemployment, increase in electricity rates, escalation in prices of essential commodities, inclusion of Muslims in Other Backward Classes category and other issues.