| A policeman firing a tear gas shell at Bajemelia. Picture by Krishna Chandra Mishra
Singur/Calcutta, May 20: An assault on a lady constable and a dagger blow to her colleague today prompted police to fire rubber bullets and tear gas shells at a mob that wanted to pull down a portion of the wall around the Tata Motors site in Singur.
Local Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Save Farmland Committee leader Becharam Manna led the mob at Bajemelia village this morning.
They had been trying to incite villagers against the Tata project over the past few days. There were processions with loudspeakers yesterday exhorting residents to attack the wall, something their leader Mamata Banerjee had promised not to do.
Around 300 people, who assembled at a playground in neighbouring Kamarkundu — about 50km from Calcutta — at 11 this morning were joined by social activist Anuradha Talwar, her supporters and some SUCI activists.
When the police came in their way, the protesters argued that they could not be stopped as the place, where they had planned to assemble, was outside the site.
In the melee, an SUCI activist lunged at constable Sipra Mukherjee and tore off her collar, while fellow protester Laltu Das slashed at Sandip Chatterjee.
The police wielded the baton, but faced stiff opposition from the mob that split into groups and pelted stones. Chandernagore subdivisional police officer Kalyan Mukherjee and Hooghly additional superintendent Asit Paul were attacked with sticks and sickles.
Tear gas and rubber bullets were used after that and the protest fizzled out. Mamata Banerjee said in Calcutta the police “unleashed atrocities on a peaceful democratic movement”.
The police said seven people, including four of their personnel, were injured. But Manna claimed at least 25 of his supporters were hurt. The injured constable has been admitted to the Serampore Walsh hospital.
Shooed away by the police, the protesters tried to block roads and squatted on the tracks at Kamarkundu station for an hour from 2.20pm, holding up the Delhi-bound Rajdhani.
Burdwan range deputy inspector-general Anuj Sharma said: “There would have been casualties on our side had we not used the tear gas and rubber bullets.”
In Nandigram, supporters of the Trinamul-led Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee were accused of looting houses of CPM supporters. Local CPM leader Ashoke Guria said 18 houses have been attacked in the past two days.