Kolkata, Nov 21 (UNI) The Army today staged route march and night curfew was clamped in five police station areas as widespread violence rocked parts of the city during an All India Minority Forum (AIMF)-sponsored agitation protesting the Nandigram incidents and demanding deportation of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen from the country.
At least 70 people, including 35 policemen, were injured, while more than 20 vehicles had either been torched or badly damaged as police fired teargas shells and caned the frenzied mob that fought pitched battles with them and indulged in wanton destruction.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee periodically reviewed the situation at high level meetings throughout the day and ordered strengthening of security measures also in other parts of the city.
Describing the violence as the result of irresponsible leadership of the AIMF, which called a three-hour shutdown in the city, the Chief Minister said the Army had to be called to ensure that the situation did not go out of control.
He said though the situation was now under control, night curfew from 2200 hrs to 0600 hrs had to be declared to pre-empt any recurrence of the violence.
Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said six columns of Army jawans had been deployed in the affected areas, while Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty informed that parts of Entally, Beniapukur, Karaya, Topsia and Park Street police stations would be under the night curfew.
Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi described the violence as reprehensible. He urged the people to refrain from all violence and help maintain peace and harmony.
However, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee described it as the manifestation of the people's ire against the CPI(M)-led Left Front Government on the Nandigram and Rizwanur Rahman issues.
Alleging that the administration had totally failed to control the situation, Ms Banerjee said the trouble started not out of any political movement, but because of the people's anger.
Eds: Pls pick up suitably from earlier series.