In a grim reminder of the 2007 Nandigram police firing, the West Bengal police on Tuesday allegedly opened fire on farmers protesting against land acquisition for an open cast mine. At least 27 policemen and six farmers were injured in a clash between police and the agitating farmers at Loba village in Birbhum district.
Farmers alleged that the police had fired at them, even as the Mamata Banerjee-led Government denied the charges.
“Some sections of the media are saying that the police fired. There was no firing. The police, in fact, showed a lot of patience… The district police superintendent has informed me that the medical reports of the injured didn’t show any trace of bullets,” said state Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee, adding that the condition of two villagers and a few policemen was critical.
Basudeb, however, refused to divulge how the police combated the armed mob.
The police had gone to Loba village, which is under the Dubrajpur police station, to reclaim an earth-moving machine belonging to DVC Emta Coal Mines Ltd that had been forcibly retained by the villagers last year. The farmers opposing the land acquisition refused to allow the removal of the equipment and allegedly attacked the police with crude bombs, bows and arrows. Nine police vans were also destroyed in the clash. Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee, which is spearheading the agitation, said that it was not against industrialisation but were demanding that the displaced be adequately compensated and given rehabilitation and employment.