Clashes Erupt in India's Siliguri After 30 BJP Members Arrested for Organising Rally - Video
07:45 GMT 17.08.2021 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 19.07.2022)
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of India's ruling BJP, has organised bicycle rallies and marathons across 75 locations in the country to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the country's independence.
Clashes erupted between police and members of the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Siliguri, West Bengal, on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of 30 party members for flouting COVID restrictions in public.
Speaking to Sputnik, Raju Sheetri, a Siliguri police officer confirmed that members of the BJP and its youth wing - Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) - were arrested as they gathered in the city for a march to commemorate India's 75 years of independence.
He said they had not received the mandatory permissions against the backdrop of COVID third wave fears.
In a video uploaded by the news agency ANI, young BJYM members can be seen holding the country's national flag and chanting slogans while being apprehended.
— ANI (@ANI) August 17, 2021
Sankar Ghosh, a Siliguri-based member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from the BJP was also arrested.
— Poll Update (@PollUpdateInd) August 17, 2021
Targeting West Bengal State Chief Mamata Banerjee, BJP spokesperson Raju Bista questioned if carrying the national flag was now a crime in the eastern Indian state.
The BJP is the main opposition party in West Bengal.
The Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) defeated the BJP in the state elections held earlier this year. Since TMC's sweeping victory in West Bengal, members of the BJP have often engaged in a war of words and blame-games with politicians from West Bengal's ruling party.
— Raju Bista (@RajuBistaBJP) August 17, 2021
The arrested BJP members are currently at the Siliguri Police Station.
15 August 2021, 13:05 GMT
The BYJM has named this independence celebratory campaign - "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" - and has been organising cycling and running rallies in several parts of India since 15 August.