Army deployed in Kolkata to quell riots

Scores of protesters, cops injured in clashes • Taslima Nasreen’s eviction from India sought

Kolkata, November 21:

Soldiers were deployed in downtown Kolkata today to quell violent riots that erupted in the eastern Indian city, officials said.

Some three hundred soldiers have taken up positions in the city center, Prasad Ranjan Roy, the West Bengal state home secretary, told reporters.

Police fired tear gas and used bamboo sticks today to disperse hundreds of Muslim and Buddhist protesters who accused the ruling Communist Party of killing innocent villagers in eastern India, police said.

Violence has plagued Nandigram village in West Bengal state this year as farmers fiercely resist official efforts to force them from their land so they can build a shipyard and petrochemical plant in the area. At least 34 people, many of them Muslims, have died in Nandigram since January.

Today, nearly 200 protesters belonging to the All India Minorities Forum (AIMF) were arrested after they attacked police with rocks at several areas in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, said Vineet Kumar Goyal, a deputy commissioner of police. They were likely to be freed later today.

Scores of protesters and policemen were injured in the clashes, Aaj Tak television news channel reported.

The West Bengal government decided to deploy army soldiers on the streets of Kolkata to control the situation as protesters attacked buses and blocked traffic in key districts, said Prasad Ranjan Roy, the state home secretary.

The plan to set up the industrial zone was officially abandoned in March after 14 people died in battles with police. However, violence has persisted as the communist party keeps pushing for the project.

Crowds led by the AIMF fought a pitched battle with the cops and threw stones at them as trouble spread through Muslim-dominated areas of the city today when the mob demanded that the visa given to Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Traffic on the arterial AJC Bose Road came to a halt because of the agitation as violence spread to Park Circus, Ripon Street and other places. The AIMF had called for road blockade today, but suddenly demanded that Nasreen be evicted from India.