In the latest incident showing the lack of preparedness by the Mamata Government, one person was killed and several injured at Tehatta bordering Nadia district as police opened fire “in self-defence”.
The crowd was agitating against the police disallowing a Jagaddhatri puja pandal at a disputed venue.
This is the second incident of police firing in a few days. Recently, the police had opened fire at protesting villagers in Dubrajpur in Birbhum district.
Soon after Wednesday’s incident, state Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra summoned top bureaucrats and state police chiefs for a high-level meeting at the Writers’ Building. After the meeting, ADG (Law and Order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha told reporters that there had been an ‘unfortunate incident’ at Howlia in Tehatta “over a land dispute between two communities”.
“The matter was about to be resolved soon, but a large crowd obstructed the road, attacked the police and the SDPO. It also attacked the SDPO’s residence where his wife and child stayed. The police resorted to lathicharge, fired teargas shells and rubber bullets. They then fired three rounds in self-defence,” he added.
At least 10 policemen were injured in the violence that followed and three police vans were torched.
With the police well-aware of a bandh declared in the area and a road blockade, the cops’ stark mismanagement in removing the road blockade came to the fore on Wednesday.
Sources said that while the police were ill-equipped in terms of numbers, a section of the mob had gone to the SDPO’s residence and resorted to stone-pelting. The SDPO’s bodyguard had then opened fire on the crowd. Video footage showed policemen firing at the crowd from roof-tops.
While the state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, the Opposition slammed the TMC-led government.
“The Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) has won because of the common people. But if her police are going to shoot the common people, West Bengal won’t accept it. The police are becoming very trigger-happy,” said Union MoS Railways and Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya asked Didi, also the state Home Minister, to “discipline the police”.