The ongoing protests against acquisition of land for a power project in the Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal took a violent turn Tuesday when a mob torched at least ten police vehicles and a man was brought dead to a Kolkata hospital with a bullet wound.
Police denied opening fire and claimed protesters had resorted to firing. Sources in police said they were investigating the possible involvement of “outsiders” and Maoists in the violence.
The man declared dead at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata was identified by police as Mafizul Ali Khan (26), a resident of Bhangar. “Apparently he had a bullet injury in the back, and the cause of death was excessive bleeding,” an officer said.
WATCH VIDEO |Atleast Two Killed As West Bengal Land Protests Turn Violent
South 24 Parganas SP Sunil Kumar Choudhary told The Indian Express: “There was no firing from the police side. A large number of police personnel have been injured following firing and bombing by the agitators.”
Bhangar has been on the boil since October last year when farmers opposed construction of a Power Grid substation to transmit power between West Bengal and a part of Bihar. In 2013, about 13 acres of land was acquired for the project from farmers who later protested, saying they had not been paid the market value of the land. They opposed the project and demanded return of their land.
Work at the project site was suspended two weeks ago but the protests intensified over the last two days. Two TMC senior leaders, Abdur Rezzak Mollah and Mukul Roy, were sent to take stock of the situation on the ground but could not enter the affected area.
Matters came to a head Monday when Kalu Sheikh, one of those spearheading the agitation, was detained by police. This led to more protests and Sheikh was set free.
West Bengal Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay said: “I had already informed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the protests. Work on the project was stopped two weeks ago. When their demands were already being considered, why the fresh violence? This needs to be investigated.”