Twenty people were injured on Monday morning when hawkers and traders who had encroached on the Sovabazar-Bagbazar pavements fought a pitched battle with the police and the officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) during an eviction drive. The settlers also gheraoed the CMC officials.
Initially, the policemen deployed to assist CMC men were outnumbered by the hawkers. As the evicted mob started pelting stones, the local police station was asked for reinforcements. More police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel arrived and lathicharged the mob to disperse it. At the end of the drive, more than 100 illegal constructions were demolished in the Sovabazar, Bagbazar and Chatubabu’s Bazaar areas. Escalation of the violence crippled traffic on Bagbazar Street and Chittaranjan Avenue for hours from 9 am.
Trouble erupted when a CMC employee, Prithwish Bhattacharya, tried to remove a woman fruit-vendor from the Bagbazar Street pavement. “The woman hit him on the head with a block of wood and fled. That galvanised the other traders, too, to turn violent,” said K.L. Tamta, deputy commissioner of police, headquarters.