Bhangar: The ongoing protests in West Bengal’s Bhangar district took a violent turn after an agitator was killed and another injured in clashes between villagers and police personnel.
Mafizur Khan was shot and declared brought dead at the SSKM hospital. Another protestor, Alamgir Mollah, received a bullet wound in the arm but is reported to be alive and receiving treatment at RG Kar hospital. Villagers, who blocked roads and damaged several police vehicles, claimed that police had opened fire on the protesters while police said the firing took place between two groups of protesters.
“One person has been killed and another received bullet injury during the crossfire between two groups of outsiders and other residents of the area. We are looking into it,” ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma said.
Villagers agitating against a proposed power grid project in the area clashed with the police when they attempted to enter the village of Padmapukur to take control of the situation. The police force was backed by a battalion of the Rapid Action Force (RAF). Angry protestors pelted stones and torched a police van while two other police vehicles were pushed into a pond. Several police officers were injured in the ensuing melee.
To bring the situation under control, police resorted to bursting teargas shells and lathicharge, a senior police official said. The agitators also accused the RAF and the police of terrorising villagers and breaking into their houses at night.
“The RAF and police are beating us mercilessly. They are trying to terrorise us. Even the women and children are not being spared. We will not tolerate this,” said a resident of Machhi Bhanga village.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today asked the police to exercise restraint and refrain from opening fire in Bhangar. State Power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said, “Police did not retaliate, but only chased away the villagers when stones and bricks were thrown at them.”
South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar is on the boil since last week over ‘forced’ acquisition of 16 acres of farmland by the state government for the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.
Last week, nearly 10,000 villagers gathered put up road blockades to protest against the construction of a power sub-station in Bhangar. After a directive from the chief minister’s office, work on the power sub-station has been halted.
“The state government has stopped the project as per their demand. Still they are creating problems in the area. I do not see any logic behind this… I have doubts about their real intention,” Chattopadhyay said.