A group of tribals allegedly vandalised a bus stand, ransacked shops and set a few of them on fire in Raigunj area of North Dinajpur on Friday. The agitators were protesting against the “molestation and attempted rape” of two tribal women near the waiting room of Raigunj bus stand on July 9. Later, local shop owners blocked roads in protest and called for an indefinite strike.
“Now everything is under control. We are keeping a watch on the situation. Discussion is on regarding compensation to shop owners,” Ayesha Rani A, district magistrate of North Dinajpur told mediapersons. Senior police officers, however, remained tightlipped.
According to sources, nearly 15,000 tribals took out a rally to protest against the July 9 molestation incident. The rally, during which tribals brandished traditional weapons, bows, arrows and axes, marched through the town and reached the gates of Raigunj bus stand.
The tribals forcefully entered the bus stand, despite attempts by police to stop them, and ransacked the bus stand and its waiting room. They also set fire to an INTTUC office (trade union of the ruling Trinamool Congress) near the bus stand. Later, agitators ransacked shops and set fire to a few in full view of the police, sources said. Agitators also ransacked vehicles parked near the bus stand.
After tribals dispersed, local shop owners and businessmen protested against “police failure” to protect their establishments. They chased away police, who had to lob tear gas shells to control the protests. Sandip Biswas, civic body head, was also allegedly heckled when he reached the spot and tried to pacify the shop owners. Local businessmen blocked various crossings in Raigunj in protest, and called for an indefinite strike on Saturday.
“All this happened because of failure on the part of the police. They should have taken steps to protect our property. We have called for an indefinite strike in Raigunj,” said Atanu Bandhu Lahiry, secretary of the local association of shop owners and businessmen.