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Mob fury after truck kills leader nephew

Durgapur, Nov. 11: A mob today fought with police and set two vehicles on fire in Burdwan’s Kulti after a coal-laden truck mowed down two people, including the nephew of a local CPM leader.

Manabendra Mukherjee, 36, the nephew of CPM leader Sagar Mukherjee, and his friend Gopi Dutta were killed after their motorcycle collided with the truck on the road. Gopi, who was riding pillion, and Manabendra were thrown off the bike and were crushed under the wheels of the truck.

Manabendra was a known face in the area as his uncle Sagar is the secretary of the CPM’s Kulti local committee.

“The truck was transporting coal from the Eastern Coalfields,” said Prasun Banerjee, the Asansol additional superintendent of police.

Local people rushed out of their houses and stopped the truck. The driver and the cleaner, however, managed to escape. Soon, the crowd of protesters swelled to around 500.

The mob hurled bricks at the truck, breaking its windshield. Then they set the vehicle on fire. The blaze reduced to ash most of the 20 tonnes of coal the truck was carrying.

A police team arrived soon after the accident but retreated after coming under attack from the mob. The protesters threw bricks at the heavily outnumbered police team. The crowd also did not allow two fire tenders from Asansol, 20km away, to go near the truck.

The protesters chased away a second police team from neighbouring Salanpur. They overturned the Tata Sumo in which the policemen had arrived and set it ablaze.

A bigger force led by Banerjee rushed to the spot and chased the mob with batons.

Sagar arrived from the party office and requested the protesters to restrain themselves. He appealed for calm over the police’s public address system.

“Trucks laden with coal from both the ECL and illegal mines ply recklessly on this road. I have urged the police to look into it. The area has become accident-prone,” he said.

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