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Fair-weather fans vent Cup fury, draw cop fire

Chinsurah, March 24: Three youths suffered gunshot wounds and five policemen were injured when police opened fire to quell a violent mob at Balagarh last night after India’s defeat in the World Cup final at Johannesburg.

The CPI has called a 24-hour bandh in Balagarh tomorrow, but the CPM has decided to boycott it.

“A group of inebriated youths unleashed terror on the Assam Link Road at Balagarh when they began burning posters of Indian cricket players and bursting bombs,” said Hooghly police superintendent, Ajay Kumar.

“A police patrol passing that way arrested two youths. As they were passing through the area once more with the youths, a huge mob surrounded the jeep and attacked the policemen in a bid to free them. Police had to fire five rounds in self defence,” Kumar said.

According to police sources, it was around 10.30 pm that a group of youths began unleashing their frustration on India’s dismal performance against the Australians. The police picked up Khokan and Bijoy Roy for behaving rowdily in the middle of the road and drove off with them towards Guptipara.

When the patrolling vehicle returned to the spot around 10.30 pm, a huge crowd, enraged over the arrest of the two youths, attacked the jeep with stones and lathis. Police said when the mob attempted to drag out some of the personnel from inside the jeep, they had no option but to open fire.

The injured youth had a different version to narrate.

Kartik Roy, admitted to the Kalna sub-divisional hospital in adjoining Burdwan district with a bullet wound below the waist, said all the three injured worked as farm labourers.

“We were returning from the potato fields when we saw trouble ahead, the police were firing and I got hit,” Kartik said.

Sheikh Nasiruddin, who was hit on his left knee, said he saw policemen running towards them and firing from their guns.

“We had nothing to do with the violence, we were lying on the road injured for over an hour till the local people brought us here,” Nasiruddin said.

The other injured youth, Sheikh Maqbul, had to be operated on as he was hit by a bullet in the neck.

Injured assistant sub-inspector Nabadwip Haldar, recuperating in the district hospital here, said trouble began around 7.30 pm. “We had to call in the fire brigade as some miscreants had set fire to five huge piles of straw lying on the roadside. Later, we arrested two young men for creating trouble in the middle of the road,” Haldar said.

“When we were returning, the crowd surrounded us and began hitting us with sticks and stones, I fired from my revolver when some of them tried to drag me out and lynch me,” the policeman said. He said that the driver of the jeep was also brutally attacked.

Priest attacked

Enraged over India’s defeat, a group of men mercilessly beat a priest engaged by them to perform a yagna to push for victory and severely assaulted a PWD staffer who tried to come to his rescue at Birhata, reports our correspondent in Burdwan.

The wife of the injured PWD staffer, Raja Chowdhury, has lodged an FIR with the Burd- wan police station. Police said that they were looking for six youths in connection with the incident.

According to police, local youths had arranged for a yagna yesterday morning and after India lost, went to the priest’s house and dragged him to the spot where the ceremony was held.

They assaulted the priest with the firewood used for the yagna. Chowdhury was severely beaten up when he tried to save the priest. The PWD worker was sent to Calcutta for treatment.

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