Kolkata: Nabanna will remain closed for routine sanitization during the pandemic on a day BJP Yuva Morcha plans a march to the secretariat on Thursday.
The government, in a letter to Yuva Morcha general secretary Prakash Das on Thursday, cited a Supreme Court judgment a few hours go, in which the SC mentioned “certain principles regarding protest and occupation of sites and public spaces and public ways”. The government letter also referred to the National Disaster Management Act that did not allow rallies to have over 100 people. The BJP Yuva Morcha wrote to the government that “around 25,000 youths would participate”. The state held that such gathering was “not permissible in a pandemic”.
The Kolkata Police has denied permission to the two rallies originating from Kolkata — one from Hastings and the other from the BJP state headquarters. The second Hooghly bridge will remain out of bounds to traffic. Joint commissioners of police, along with deputy commissioners, will man the Nabanna entry points.
But BJP leaders stuck to their Nabanna Aviyan. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh “saw a sense of fear” in the government move over the BJP march. “The government decided to shut Nabanna as Trinamool is scared of the march. They are keeping the Nabanna closed on Thursday because they know it will be shut permanently after six months,” Ghosh said. Participants started coming to the city from Wednesday, said Yuva Morcha president Soumitra Khan. “Did the chief minister pay heed to the National Disaster Management when she took out a rally the other day? We dare the police to stop us.”
The state administration isn’t taking the rally lightly. Over 2,000 cops have been readied to patrol central and parts of south Kolkata. Police have planned to barricade spots in Burrabazar, Hastings, Esplanade and Kidderpore. “We are ascertaining the likely routes,” said an officer after BJP MP Arjun Singh announced the party would adopt “guerilla tactic” to reach Nabanna. All police stations in Kolkata and Howrah have been put on high alert.
Police have planned three-layer barricades, including normal barricades, followed by a chain of cops, comprising men from the local divisions, battalions, RAF and combat forces. Women cops have been kept on reserve. Water cannon and tear gas experts will take position behind the third barricade. Another contingent has been kept ready for the unrest spreading to adjoining areas.
The Howrah Police has requisitioned forces from Barrackpore, Asansol, Bidhannagar and Chandernagore commissionarates. The rally from Howrah Maidan will be stopped near Bangabasi College crossing. The Santraganchi bus terminus congregation will be stopped near the rail underpass. Heavy security has been planned in and around Nabanna at Mandirtala, Kazipara and Foreshore Road. Police have sealed the bylanes from Sibpur and Tikiapara to Nabanna.