Kolkata, Nov 21 (UNI) The Army staged route march and took control of violence-marred areas of the city today as night curfew was clamped in five police station areas following widespread violence during an 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 mobs 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 All India Minority Forum (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.
Talking to reporters in the evening, 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.
The Home Secretary said so far 60 people had been arrested in connection with the violence.
The last time the city witnessed Army deployment was in December 1992 following the demolition of Babri Masjid.