Days after the turban controversy erupted over the BJP’s march to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s office, another controversy is brewing over the coloured water that was sprayed on protestors by police from water cannons that day. West Bengal BJP MP Locket Chatterjee has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking him to seek a report from the Bengal government about the chemical used in the water.
“This was a very similar sight to that of China where political opponents are gagged and are stopped by chemical weapons and are not allowed to protest against the atrocities of the ruling regime,” Ms Chatterjee wrote in her letter, dated October 13.
Union Minister Amit Shah was expected to visit Bengal shortly but that trip has been cancelled. Instead BJP president JP Nadda will be in north Bengal on Monday.
On October 8, purple coloured water was sprayed by water cannons on protestors during the Nabanna “abhiyan” or march. The chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay had said “Holi colours” were used. The practice was common across the world, he said, to identify protestors for follow up action if needed.
But BJP’s Yuva Morcha chief, Tejasvi Surya, who had flown in to Kolkata to participate in the protest, had said he would demand an explanation about it as the dye had affected party workers, some of whom had to be admitted to hospital, apparently with severe nausea and breathlessness.
“The chemical that was stated by the police as a tool to identify the protestors made the people sick and breathless. Many workers were so ill that they had to be admitted into hospital, including our VP Raju Banerjee,” Ms Chatterjee wrote. “This was a very new sight in the history of Indian politics where harmful chemicals were used to disperse the peaceful protesting crowd.”
A delegation comprising BJP MPs also met the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday, urging it to send a team to Kolkata to probe the matter.
“To highlight the police excesses on October 8 at the Nabanna Cholo protests, a delegation comprising Saumitra Khan (MP), Kabir Shankar Bose (Barrister) and myself met the NHRC in Delhi. We urged the Commission to despatch a team to Kolkata to probe the matter on a priority basis,” tweeted BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Swapan Dasgupta.