Nandigram (WB): BJP's West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh was stopped by police on Saturday from visiting Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district where he was scheduled to address a rally in support of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Ghosh alleged that BJP workers were baton-charged by police when they tried to go to Nandigram, the epicentre of farmland protests led by now Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over a decade back.
"We planned a peaceful rally in Nandigram similar to those we have been conducting in other parts of West Bengal," he said.
"Around 15 days back, we had written to the superintendent of police seeking permission. We had also written to the officer-in-charge of the local police station... Even after that, they did not give us permission.
Police baton-charged our party workers for no reason," Ghosh said.
A large number of police personnel were deployed on all roads leading to Nandigram and blockades were also put up at the entry points, officials said.
Around noon, police stopped Ghosh, who tried to enter Nandigram through Chandipur, at Tengua More, following which there was a scuffle between BJP workers and security personnel, who were provoked to baton charge, they said.
Amid the commotion, BJP's state general secretary Sayantan Basu started addressing party workers from his car.
Police soon stopped him, leading to further trouble, officials said.
"We follow rules and laws, that's why we are leaving today. But I will come back and go to Nandigram," Ghosh said. "I have seen the police beating our party workers for doing no wrong. There were thousands of party workers with us, we could have broken the barricade if I wanted to. That was not our aim... We want to break the autocratic, the undemocratic government ruling West Bengal," he added.
A senior officer of the Purba Medinipur Police, when contacted, denied receiving any letter from the BJP seeking permission for the rally in Nandigram.
"We got the information that the BJP was planning to hold a rally from the media. Political parties need to have police permission to hold any kind of rallies. So we stopped them from entering the area... This could have disturbed the peaceful situation there," the officer told PTI.
The Trinamool Congress hit out at the BJP for trying to go to Nandigram without police permission.
"We have to follow the rules... We need to see whether they conducted the rally following rules or flouting it," said Subrata Mukherjee, a veteran TMC leader and state minister.
"They (BJP) can break the barricades, they can break heads of common people, they can break their rib cage... that's all they can do," he said.