KOLKATA: Ten months after an agitation against a power grid claimed two lives and led to the disappearance of 16 people in Bhangar in the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, violence erupted in the region again.
The local TMC workers clashed with agitators on Thursday leading to bullet injuries and gutting of vehicles. Clashes erupted when the TMC workers tried to prevent a motorbike rally of anti-power grid agitators from entering Bhangra by blocking the roads with tree trunks and wooden benches. In the ensuing melee, both side sides sustained injuries. All the injured are being treated at a local hospital. Two pick-up vans and three motorcycles were burnt during the clash.
Bhangar MLA and TMC leader Abdul Razzak Molla claimed that the agitators did not have permission to enter Bhangar. “The agitators had not informed the police. When our men tried to prevent them from entering Bhangar by creating a barricade, they threw bombs at us,” he said.
TMC strongman Arabul Islam denied that TMC men were behind the burning of vehicles. “One of the agitators’ vehicles containing large quantities of bombs exploded during the clashes. The locals supporting the power grid opposed the rally and TMC leaders were not involved in the violence,” he said.
On the other hand, agitation committee leader Amitabha Bhattcharya refuted TMC's claim saying that it was impossible for their supporters to throw bombs while riding motorcycles.
CPI (ML) Red Star chief Alik Chakraborty, who was arrested earlier this year on charges of providing weapons training to the locals, maintained that the resistance to the power grid was a people’s movement.
“They are claiming that we are Maoists, but this is a genuine people’s agitation,” he said. His claim was supported by the Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty, who said that the agitation is democratic.
On the other hand, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said that Congress, Maoists, and CPM were trying to extract political mileage from the agitation and urged the state government to take locals into confidence before going ahead with the project.
Bhangar has been on the boil for the past two years after the state government acquired 16 acres of agriculture land to set up a 440 KV power grid. CPI (ML) Red Star has claimed that the project will affect more than 30,000 people in the South 24 Parganas district alone, due to the usage of greenhouse gas sodium hexafluoride in the proposed 12 transmission lines in the grid.
Mamata Banerjee assured that the project will not materialise without the consent of the locals.