West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari and state BJP Yuva Morcha president Soumitra Khan along with a number of party activists were detained by the police in the city on Monday for holding protests on TMCâ€™s â€˜Khela Hobe Divasâ€™.
The BJP leaders and workers were protesting against the alleged attacks on saffron camp members by the TMC since the assembly poll as part of the saffron partyâ€™s â€˜Poschim Bongo Bachao Divasâ€™ programme to counter the â€˜Khela Hobe Divasâ€™.
After Khan and BJP leaders Kalyan Choubey and Mina Devi Purohit were detained for assembling at Rani Rasmoni Avenue in the heart of he city, Ghosh and Adhikari sat on a dharna at the foot of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on nearby Mayo Road.
Soon they were taken into preventive detention by the police citing the Disaster Management Act which is in place due to the prevailing coronavirus situation.
â€œTMC is deliberately creating trouble in Tripura and talking about attack on democracy in that state. What is it doing here? Not allowing us to carry on our peaceful protests,â€ Ghosh said before he was arrested.
Senior BJP leader Debasree Choudhury was also detained for refusing to leave the venue, where a deputy commissioner ranked officer of Kolkata Police and hundreds of police personnel were present.
The BJP leaders were all taken to the Lalbazar Kolkata Police headquarters and allowed to go on P R bond.
While the BJP claimed that it leaders and activists were arrested, a senior Kolkata Police officer said over 50 BJP activists, including few leaders of the party, were taken to preventive custody for assembling at Rani Rasmoni Avenue and Mayo Road in violation of the Disaster Management Act.
BJP state spokesman Shamik Bhattacharya claimed that a state unit president of the party, the leader of opposition and a former union minister (Debasree Choudhury) were arrested for their peaceful democratic protest.
â€œThis shows how intolerant the Mamata Banerjee government is about a non violent protest. It is scared,â€ he added.
BJP state vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar told reporters, â€œOn the one hand TMC is recommending by-polls and on the other stopping us from demonstrating peacefully citing the pandemicâ€.
He alleged that hundreds of workers of the party are assembling in different parts of West Bengal for its â€˜Khela Hobe Divasâ€™ programme but no provision of the Disaster Management Act is applied against them.
TMC MP Sougata Roy said he will not comment on the police action but anyone found flouting the Disaster Management Act can be arrested by the force if it deemed so.
â€œI heard the requests by the police was not listened to but I wonâ€™t say anything more on a purely administrative decision,â€ he added.
The TMC held its â€˜Khela Hobe Divasâ€™ programme during the day to promote sporting activities in the state, to counter which BJP called for â€˜Paschimbongo Banchao Divasâ€™.
Incidentally TMC had made â€˜Khela Hobeâ€™ a rallying cry during the bitterly fought state assembly poll earlier this year.
It maintained that the day has been chosen to hold its â€˜Khela Hobe Divasâ€™ in memory of 16 football lovers who died in a stadium stampede on August 16, 1980.
BJP referred to the Great Calcutta Killings on the same date in 1946 in which over one lakh people, including women, were brutally killed during the regime of erstwhile Muslim League as reason for its programme.