Mayhem in Bengal as anti-CAA protests turn violent
Two trains were vandalised, and railway stations, track, property and RPF vehicles were set on fire as Trinamool Congress and Congress members joined the protests against the new citizenship law (CAA), obstructing train and vehicular movement, prompting the state government to shut down internet services in some parts of West Bengal on Sunday.
Tyres were burnt and key national and state highways were blocked for the third day in the state by anti-CAA protesters in various districts of West Bengal.
With the violence showing no signs of abating, the state government suspended internet services in Malda, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Howah districts, and accused some "externally mobilised communal forces" of "inciting violence' and creating disturbances".
Sources said internet would also be shut down in Basirhat and Barasat sub-divisions of North 24 Parganas district and Baruipur and Canning sub-divisions of South 24 Parganas district.
The most serious incident took place in Acra station in South 24 Parganas district where the protesters vandalised a train and set afire a part of the railway track.
The mob smashed the ticket vending machines and the furniture, and set the counter afire along with the paper tickets. The fire brigade could not reach in time due to the road blockades outside the station while the protesters threw stones. Police reinforcements were rushed to the spot which resorted to baton charge and lobbed tear gas shells, forcing the protesters to beat a retreat.
In Usti, protesters staged demonstrations by burning tyres on the road, and obstructed train services at Magraaht and Mallickpur stations.
In Murshidabad, protesters vandalised Manigram and Rejinagar stations and torched Rallway Protection Force vehicles. Protesters also attacked the police in Rejinagar.
The situation turned ugly at Lohapur station in Birbhum district, as a frenzied group of people torched the railway platform.
Other incidents of rail and road blockades continue to be reported from other parts of the state, even as the agitation intensified in Malda and North Dinajpur districts, and also reached Bankura.
Trinamool MLA Swapan Bauri led a group of protesters in burning tyres and blocking the National Highway at Gangajalghati of Bankura district.
State government buses were stoned and vandalised allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers in Karandighi of North Dinajpur district, while Congress workers squatted on the railway tracks for seven minutes at Bhabla Halt station in North 24 Parganas district.
At Amdanga in North 24 Parganas district, protesters staged a demonstration by felling a tree and burning tyres on the road at Sonadanga and Dhankal on National Highway 34. At Kamdevpur, the protesters first blocked the highway and then started cooking on the road to start a 'picnic'.
The Kalyani Expressway was blocked at Ruia Bakultala crossing under Kahardah police station, while demonstrators burnt tyres to block the Berachapa-Pritima crossing under Deganga police station.
Protesters blocked the Naihati road in Ashoknagar, and staged a demonstration on the Madhyamgram-Jessore Road.
In Birbhum, Murarai-Raghunathganj state Highway was obstructed at Hiyatnagar, and Mitrapur by burning of tyres, while the Bhaluka Road station was blocked in Malda district.
Carrying posters reading "No NRC, No CAA", and "Modi hatao, Desh bachao, BJP hatao, Desh Bachao", protesters set up road blockades on Jangipur-Lalgola state highway at Kantakhali under Raghunathganj police station.
Railway services were badly affected due to the stir. EMU local train services on Howrah-Kharagpur section of South Eastern Railway resumed on Saturday evening after being stalled for 10 hours.
The Eastern Railway has cancelled nine express and four long distance passenger trains which were scheduled to run on Sunday.
The South Eastern Railway also cancelled one Express and some passenger trains slated for the day. Some long distance passenger trains also suffered the same fate.
BJP president Dilip Ghosh alleged a conspiracy to turn West Bengal into "West Bangladesh" and accused chief minister Mamata Banerjee of inaction.
"They have only silently watched the disturbances which have spread. She (Banerjee) wants this to happen. She may retain her vote bank, but West Bengal will cease to exist," said Ghosh.IANS