Clashes erupted in parts of Kolkata and neighbouring Howrah on October 8 during “March to Nabanna” organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) youth wing — Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). The protest rallies were held in the wake of recent killings of BJP workers in West Bengal. There were reports of crude bombs hurled at policemen, which the BJP has denied. The police used water cannons, tear gas shells and lathi-charge to disperse BJP workers. The party organised four rallies despite the police not granting permission.
BJP national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted a video shot during the violence and claimed it shows Kolkata police hurling “bombs” at protesters from a rooftop.
भाजपा के आंदोलन पर कोलकाता पुलिस ने #TMC के गुंडों की तरह बर्ताव किया और भाजपा कार्यकर्ताओं पर छतों से बम फेंके! पुलिस की ये कार्रवाई सरकार की शह पर हुई है! पुलिस के ऐसे हमलों की वजह से इस आंदोलन में 1500 से ज्यादा कार्यकर्ता घायल हुए!#NabannoCholo pic.twitter.com/tkmHYS1mw2
— Kailash Vijayvargiya (@KailashOnline) October 8, 2020
It was also shared by Laxman G, all India joint organising secretary of BJP’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
What a barbaric rule in W.B under the leadership of Mamatha Benarjee. police throwing bomb on a massive rally organised by BJYM under the leadership of its President and MP Tejaswi Surya. Seems to be count down started for Bengal Didi. Violence cannot survive for a long time. pic.twitter.com/20yyKgKqe6
— Laxman G (@iLaxmanG) October 8, 2020
Rupa Murthy whose bio says “BJP/ RSS” claimed that cops hurled crude oil bombs at the BJP rally.
Mamata Banerjee government inadvertently showing India what murderous fascism is, by directing West Bengal police to hurl crude bombs at the BJP rally in WB earlier today. pic.twitter.com/VpAoxVmmHF
— Rupa Murthy (@rupamurthy1) October 8, 2020
The incident took place in Howrah Maidan and Times Now journalist Sreyashi Dey was reporting live from the terrace where cops were stationed. “Since this video is running on news channels, that’s my Cameraperson & I reporting live from Howrah Maidan today, what is seen in the video is cops using smoke bombs to disperse the crowd as barricades were breached and stones were hurled,” she tweeted.
Since this video is running on news channels, that’s my Cameraperson & I reporting live from Howrah Maidan today, what is seen in the video is cops using smoke bombs to disperse the crowd as barricades were breached and stones were hurled. We were airing live visuals. https://t.co/k8oFwWLMp2
— Sreyashi Dey (@SreyashiDey) October 8, 2020
Dey’s tweet was shared by Howrah City Police who said that the cops used tear smoke when agitators breached barricades and indulged in stone-pelting.
A video of police throwing Tear Smoke Munitions yesterday in Howrah is being misrepresented in social media.A police team was stationed at rooftop which used Tear Smoke only when d agitators breached d barricade & started pelting https://t.co/nGWHSYeVHG persons were present there pic.twitter.com/fnglSAgObw
— Howrah City Police (@hwhcitypolice) October 9, 2020
A reporter who was also in the area when the violence took place told Alt News, “The police could not have used bombs. If you notice carefully, the object in their hand is cylindrical in shape, consistent with how a smoke bomb or tear gas shell looks.”
“Moreover, they did not hurl the object but flung it in the air like underarm bowling. A bomb needs to be thrown at a certain velocity so that it explodes upon contact with a surface. It is always thrown with force. I’ve covered enough clashes to know that what the cops threw was not a bomb,” the reporter added.
Another Kolkata-based journalist spoke with us on the condition of anonymity. The reporter was close to the building where the video was shot and confirmed that they did not spot policemen hurling crude or petrol bombs. The reporter gave us a timeline of events — “The area was cordoned off but protestors broke barricades and hurled stones. In retaliation, the police tried to use water cannons on the crowd and later fired tear gas shells when the cannons did not work. This happened in Howrah Maidan, GT Road.” The reporter said that the cops in the video likely threw smoke bombs.
At 4:30 minutes in the broadcast below, Sreyashi Dey can be seen reporting from the building’s terrace. She provides a bird’s eye view of the situation on the ground. The police have barricaded the road and are prepared with water cannons and riot vehicles. On the other side are BJP workers gathering to hold rallies.
Several other videos show protestors breaking the barricades and policemen throwing tear gas shells.
Other reports of the violence show similar visuals.
The claim that policemen threw ‘bombs’ on BJP workers is neither supported by visuals nor ground reports by journalists.