| The NBSTC bus set on fire by Congress supporters at Gosala More on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri town. Picture by Biplab Basak
March 15: The repercussions of yesterday’s police firing in Nandigram continued to be felt today as different political parties held protests and demonstrations in all the six districts of north Bengal.
There was some violence, too, as one state bus was set on fire, and two more were ransacked, in and around Jalpaiguri.
Lawyers, thespians and intellectuals joined the leaders and party workers of the Congress, Trinamul Congress, BJP, SUCI and CPI-ML today to condemn yesterday’s firing that claimed 14 lives and injured several others. There were also calls for the resignation of Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
The rallies, demonstrations and road blockades took place in Siliguri, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Raiganj, Balurghat, Islampur and in other small towns as well.
Youth Congress members staged a road blockade at Gosala More on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri town this afternoon and set fire to an NBSTC bus besides damaging another. Chhatra Parishad members also ransacked a government bus in the Beguntari area of the town.
“We have arrested 47 protesters so far for these two incidents,” said Jalpaiguri additional superintendent of police Tapash Das.
At a news meet in Siliguri, veteran Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal called upon the residents of Nandigram to launch a planned arms struggle to thwart the CPM and the state government. “There is no other alternative to stop the CPM-led aggression,” he said.
The Congress, SUCI, Trinamul Congress and CPI-ML blocked Hill Cart Road at Hasmi Chowk and at Sevoke More in turns, while a number of intellectuals, under the banner of Jana Unnayan O Adhikar Mancha, took out a procession in Siliguri in the evening. Representatives from seven theatre groups of Siliguri issued a joint statement, condemning yesterday’s massacre.
Police said more than 30 protesters were arrested during the blockades.
In Cooch Behar, Youth Congress supporters blocked Station More and Court More. Similar blockades were organised at Kasba on NH 34, near the bus stand in Raiganj and in the Mangalpur area of Balurghat. SUCI and CPI-ML supporters burnt effigies of the chief minister at Raiganj, demanding his resignation.
Lawyers organised rallies in Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Balurghat. “We condemn the police firing and want the government to take immediate steps to restore normality in Nandigram,” said Manik Deb, the secretary of the bar association in Balurghat.
CPM leaders took out rallies in towns and villages, calling on people to defy tomorrow’s strike called by the Congress, SUCI, Trinamul Congress and the BJP.