Clashes broke out in Howrah on Friday between the police and the Left Front activists, who were marching towards the state secretariat, demanding employment for the youth. Several people on the two sides suffered injuries in the clash. According to sources, the police lobbed tear gas shell and resorted to baton charge after activists of the CPI(M)'s student and youth wings pelted stones at them.
Members of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), took out a rally from Singur, the venue of the abandoned Tata Nano car plant, on Thursday afternoon, demanding job opportunities for the youth of the state.
The rally was scheduled to culminate at the state secretariat on Friday afternoon, but was stopped near Mullick Ghat in Howrah, 5 km away. Sources said the activists, in their attempt to move forward, broke one of the three barricades set up by the police at Mullick Ghat.
A scuffle ensued with the police shortly after, with the agitators hurling bricks at the security personnel, who retaliated with tear gas shells and baton charge, they said.
"We were told by the police that five of our representatives would be allowed to go to Nabanna to submit a deputation. But as soon as our peaceful rally reached Mullick Ghat, police resorted to unprovoked lathi charge and tear gas shell firing," DYFI state secretary Sayandeep Mitra said.
#WATCH Howrah: Youth wing and student wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist), stage a protest alleging unemployment in the state. Police fire tear-gas at protesters. #WestBengal pic.twitter.com/j4OqNTJW28— ANI (@ANI) September 13, 2019
A number of SFI and DYFI workers fell unconscious during the clash, he said.
"We were to submit thousands of applications seeking jobs and answers on various other issues from Banerjee, as part of the TMC government's "Didi ke Bolo" public outreach initiative," Mitra told reporters.
The Mamata Banerjee government had been sitting on the "debris of an industry" in Singur, he claimed. "She has failed to bring about economic development in West Bengal. Several business summits were organised over the past few years but not investment has been made. Lakhs of youths are unemployed," the DYFI state secretary added.
Rebutting the allegations, West Bengal education minister and senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said the Left Front activists were trying to disturb the "peaceful atmosphere" in the state.
Singur had become the hotbed of West Bengal politics in 2008, after the Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, fought a pitched battle with the erstwhile Left Front government over land acquisition for Tata's Nano factory.
The TMC agitation eventually led to the exit of the proposed small car factory and catapulted then opposition leader, Banerjee, to power.