Yashwant, Munda injured as BJP protests in Jharkhand (Lead)

February 12th, 2009 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Feb 12 (IANS) Former union minister Yashwant Sinha and ex chief minister Arjun Munda were injured when police baton charged hundreds of BJP protesters during an agitation in the Jharkhand capital Thursday.
The police action angered the BJP, which called for a state-wide shutdown Friday.

The saffron party is demanding dissolution of the state assembly that has been put under suspended animation and fresh elections in Jharkhand, which is under President’s Rule since Jan 19.

The President’s Rule had to be imposed in Jharkhand after Shibu Soren, then chief minister, stepped down following a defeat in a key by-election.

Around 10,000 BJP workers tried to break barricades put up by the police to reach the governor’s house, Raj Bhavan, for the agitation “Ghera Dalo, Dera Dalo”. Sinha and Munda were leading the protesters.

State party president Raghubar Das and BJP legislators also joined the protests to Raj Bhavan that was fortified and all its four gates were barricaded.

Authorities had put in heavy security arrangements to thwart the BJP agitation.

Minor clashes broke out between the police and BJP workers near the gate number two of Raj Bhavan. The police used water cannons and batons to disperse the protesters in which Sinha and Munda were injured.

The former external affairs minister and the former chief minister were taken into preventive custody along with hundreds of BJP protesters. They were released in the evening, said a police office

The BJP leaders reacted angrily to the police action.

“The police beat up our party workers mercilessly. In a democratic set up everyone has the right to lodge protest and agitate. Police baton charge on peaceful agitators was uncalled for. Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi has not done good by giving a free hand to the police,” Sinha, who suffered a minor injury near his eye, told reporters.

Former chief minister Munda suffered injuries in the left leg. BJP legislator Saryu Rai suffered a head injury.

The former chief minister alleged that the police action was done at the behest of the Congress.

“The police resorted to batons at the instructions of the Congress. The Congress is ruling the state behind the curtains,” Munda said.

The administration diverted traffic on the routes leading to the governor’s house, putting people, particularly students, to hardship.

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