Kolkata: Two policemen were injured after a mob attacked a police party that was enforcing the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus at Tikiapara in Howrah district, a ‘red zone’, an official said on Tuesday.
The incident also triggered a war of words between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP. While the TMC said stern action would be taken against the culprits behind the violence, the BJP claimed that the state government’s “politics of appeasement” has led to this episode.
The incident took place in the evening when a police patrol reached Belilious Road at Tikiapara after receiving inputs that a large number of people were jostling in a local market, violating the lockdown and social distancing norms.
“The police asked them to return home and that led to an altercation and exchange of blows. The locals then pelted stones at the policemen. Two of our personnel were injured and two vehicles were damaged,” the official said.
Television news channels aired video clip that showed police personnel running for their lives while a group of people is seen hurling stones and abuses at them.
The two injured police personnel were taken to a local hospital.
Later, a large police contingent, including Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel, reached the spot to control the situation.
Howrah has recently been declared as one of the four districts which is in the red zone. Around 75 per cent of the state’s COVID-19 cases were reported from these districts. The other three such districts are Kolkata, East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas.
Trinamool Congress leader of Howrah district and Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee criticised the attack on the policemen and said steps would be taken against the culprits.
“We condemn such an attack on policemen. They were doing their duties. The culprits would be identified and stern action would be taken. Defiance of the lockdown regulations and violence such as this won’t be tolerated,” Banerjee said.
The BJP was quick to allege that the state government’s alleged politics of appeasement as the reason behind the violence.
“West Bengal Police personnel attacked by a stone-pelting mob for trying to enforce lockdown in Tikiapara, Howrah. Thanks to Mamata Banerjee’s appeasement politics, her loyal voters are now attacking policemen, even while Bengal faces a tough fight against #Covid19 pandemic,” the West Bengal BJP tweeted.
Meanwhile, a youth was arrested and his motorcycle seized in Parnashree area of Kolkata on the charge of assaulting a policeman who stopped him for breaking the lockdown norm.