Top police officer chased and assaulted by saffron-clad protesters in eastern Indian city

·3-min read
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party clash with Kolkata police during protest rally (Sukhomoy Sen / Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party clash with Kolkata police during protest rally (Sukhomoy Sen / Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

A top police officer in India’s eastern Kolkata city sustained serious injuries on Tuesday after being chased and assaulted by men allegedly associated with the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In a video of the incident, assistant commissioner of police Debajit Chattopadhyay can be seen being thrashed by a group of over 10 saffron-clad men wielding flag sticks.

Mr Chattopadhyay briefly escapes the crowd before being chased by the alleged BJP workers to the end of the road, where he was attacked again.

The officer was then escorted by some locals as the mob continued chasing him. He suffered multiple fractures and was admitted to a hospital for treatment.

This was one of the several incidents of violence and arson that have turned parts of the city into a battle zone.

BJP members clashed with police during a protest march held by them against the West Bengal state government led by the country’s only woman chief minister and staunch BJP critic — Mamata Banerjee.

Kolkata was turned into a fortress by the city police after they were forced to barricade multiple roads to prevent demonstrators from marching further.

The BJP, which is the primary opposition party in West Bengal, staged the march to protest against the administration of Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) party over recent allegations of corruption and scams.

A police vehicle was also torched near the central part of the city after protesters were barred from marching toward the state secretariat building in Howrah area. A police kiosk was damaged as well.

At least 56 police personnel were injured during the protest march, while over 300 BJP workers, including some senior state functionaries, were reportedly wounded during the clashes.

The scuffles continued for several hours, with police resorting to teargas and water cannon to disperse the crowd. The protesters hit back at officers by pelting stones.

Police fire tear gas to disperse Bharatiya Janata Party members (AFP via Getty Images)
Police fire tear gas to disperse Bharatiya Janata Party members (AFP via Getty Images)

Four people were arrested for allegedly assaulting the police officer and setting a police vehicle ablaze following a night-long raid in parts of the city.

The suspects were charged with attempt to murder, destruction of government property and preventing public servants from performing duty.

“The raids are still going on,” an officer was quoted by news agency PTI as saying on Wednesday afternoon.

A total of 139 people have been arrested in relation to Tuesday’s violence.

The BJP claimed the violence was carried out by TMC members who made their way into the protest march. “Our activists are being framed and false charges slapped against them,” said Dilip Ghosh, the BJP’s national vice president.

However, according the state administration, the police showed “tremendous restraint”.

“Chapter 1 in BJP’s New Education Policy: how to methodically torch police vehicle. BJP simians in Kolkata yesterday,” wrote TMC lawmaker Mahua Moitra on Twitter.