Ishwardaha, Feb. 7: The state government today said opponents of land acquisition are believed to have lynched a sub-inspector and dumped his body into a river in Haldia.
If the government’s worst fear comes true – the body is yet to be found – sub-inspector Sadhucharan Chatterjee will be the first official to have been killed in the industrialisation backlash that is fast transforming itself into mob militancy.
In a throwback to the mindless violence of the Naxalite era, villagers are suspected to have battered to death Chatterjee, a 59-year-old sub-inspector who had only a year of service left, at Ganga More in Ishwardaha, 130 km from Calcutta.
He was part of a team that went to the village to dissuade people from digging up roads — a mode of protest that originated in Nandigram, across the river Haldi and 7 km away by boat, last month to protest plans for a special economic zone.
Land around Ishwardaha is proposed to be acquired for a pharmaceutical hub, a developer for which has yet to be identified. However, no notification for acquiring the land has been issued so far.
The mob that lynched sub-inspector Chatterjee also beat up 12 other policemen. Among those grievously injured is Nirmal Majhi, the officer-in-charge of the local Bhabanipur police station. Majhi is being brought to Calcutta for treatment.
DIG N. Ramesh Babu said Chatterjee belonged to the district intelligence branch and his blood-splattered body was taken in a boat and dumped in the Haldi.
“Eyewitnesses told us that Sadhucharan’s body was lying on the ground till about noon. The villagers put the body on a rickshaw van and took it on board a boat. The boat then headed along the Haldi towards Nandigram,” the DIG said. Fisherfolk and divers are trying to find the body.
Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said “large-scale raids” are being conducted in the area. Ten persons have been arrested.
Tension flared up last afternoon when villagers belonging to the Trinamul Congress and the CPI — both parties are opposed to land acquisition — stopped a 300-strong motorcycle procession by the CPM in support of industry.
“Some villagers dragged Tapas Utthasini, CPM local committee member, from the pillion and beat him up. The villagers later dug up some roads,” an official said.
Around 9 am today, when villagers belonging to the Baastu Krishi Jomi Banchao Committee — an outfit formed during the Nandigram agitation — began to dig up more roads, CPM supporters informed the police.
OC Majhi led a team of policemen, including Chatterjee, to the sprawling village, which has about 15,000 families. An altercation followed, during which a villager hit the OC on his head with a bamboo stick.
Several other villagers, armed with sticks and rods, started beating up the policemen. The policemen then ran towards their jeeps.
Profusely bleeding, the OC fell unconscious after running for some time. Some villagers then picked him up and laid him on the ground at some distance.
When the OC regained consciousness and the others regrouped, they realised that Chatterjee was missing. But none had the courage to go in search of him into the village.