West Bengal: Violence Erupts In Central Kolkata As Activists Of Pirzada Furfura's ISF Clash With Workers Of Trinamool Congress, Police
Violence erupted in parts of South 24 Parganas district and Esplanade area of central Kolkata today (Jan 21) as activists and supporters of the Indian Secular Front (ISF) fought a pitched battle with the workers of ruling Trinamool Congress and police.
ISF was floated by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui Furfura, an influential Muslim cleric from Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district, in the run up to the state assembly polls 2020. A supporter of Trinamool earlier, the fiery cleric is now a trenchant of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holding her responsible for "corruption and underdevelopment of Muslims".
The trouble began when supporters of the ISF had gathered today morning at Bhangar to proceed to at a rally in Kolkata to observe the foundation day of the party. Clashes broke out between Trinamool Congress led by Arabul Islam and ISF activists.
Following the clashes in Bhangar, violence spread to Esplanade area in central Kolkata. ISF supporters led by its MLA Naushad Siddique arrived at the rally venue. Siddique and the ISF supporters held demonstrations demanding the arrest of Arabul Islam.
According to police, ISF activists blocked an arterial road in the heart of the city, prompting the cops to request them to clear Jawaharlal Nehru Road and allow traffic movement. However they refused to vacate the road demanding that the perpetrators behind the attacks on its activists at Bhangar be arrested first.
The police resorted to lathi charge and fired tear gas shells in an attempt to disperse the mob which had blocked traffic. The police later arrested Siddique
As police baton-charged the workers and lobbed tear gas shells, the demonstrators numbering around 500 retreated but pelted the cops with stones from nearby lanes, injuring several police personnel.
The protestors also damaged kiosks and guardrails of the police injuring several policemen, the official said.
Commuters, who were hiding in shops with their shutters down came out raising their hands.
Siddique, before his detention, deplored police inaction at Bhangar and the high-handedness of the force in Esplanade by turning on "peaceful protestors".
A strong police contingent, comprising RAF and armed policemen, was deployed in the area.
Several top police officers rushed to the spot to control the mob.
After about an hour, the police managed to clear the road and chased away the protestors but stray incidents of stone pelting continued for some time.
ISF An Emerging Political Force In Bengal
West Bengal has been recently witnessing the rise of aggressive Islamist politics. One influential player is the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, headed by Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who is currently a powerful minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet. Tablighi Jamaat has also managed to build a significant following.
As a key Islamic seminary, Furfura Sharif holds sway over the Muslim community in parts of the state.
After hinting repeatedly that it will tie-up with Assasudin Owiasi-led MIM, ISF formed an alliance with Congress and CPM-led Left Front to fight the 2021 state election. While Left Parties contested in 165 seats, Congress field candidates in 92 constituencies, ISF entered the fray in 37 seats.
Though Furfura, who maintains a prominent presence on social media, drew huge crowds at meetings, his party won only one seat. His younger brother Naushad Siddiqui, who was fielded from Bhangar constituency in South 24 Parganas district. emerged victorious. He was the only winning candidate of Left-Congress-ISF alliance.
A video of a Furfura, wherein he was heard appealing to the crowd to pray to Allah so that he sends a deadly virus in India that kills 50 crore people, went viral on social media.
(With inputs from PTI)
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