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Violent clashes, arson mar Amit Shah’s Kolkata roadshow

Kolkata: Bengali polymath Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue was vandalised during two rounds of violent clashes, including arson, between Trinamul and BJP supporters, marring BJP president Amit Shah’s mega roadshow in central Kolkata on Tuesday evening.

Sixteen people involved in the clashes were arrested. Furious over the violence, Trinamul supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of destroying the icon’s statue, before visiting the college at night to take stock of the extent of damage. She announced a protest rally on Wednesday against the vandalisation of the bust of Vidyasagar. She threatened to capture the BJP office in “a second”.

To counter Ms Banerjee allegations, Mr Shah put the blame on her party for the violence. He also complained that the Election Commission has been silent on complaints of violence perpetrated by Trinamul workers during the Lok Sabha polls. As the violence broke out, Mr Shah was escorted to safety by police but was forced to cut short the jamboree.

The afternoon roadshow by the BJP chief, who on Monday dared Ms Banerjee to arrest him, was marred by controversy since beginning.

It was earlier scheduled to start from Shahid Minar in Esplanade before ending at Swami Vivekananda’s house in Manicktala. The location was changed to Dharmatola later due to lack of permission. When the grand campaign rally was passing by Calcutta University on College Street in the evening, a group of supporters rushed out and showed black flag shouting “Amit Shah Go Back” slogan. Agitated, the BJP activists hurled water bottles and pelted stones on them.

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