Balarampur (Purulia), April 11: An unladen lorry ran over a five-year-old boy this morning, killing him on the spot and sparking mob violence in this town.
Local youths, in a crowd of over 500 residents, dragged the driver and helper out and beat them to death. When police tried to intervene, they were greeted with brickbats, resulting in injury to an officer-in-charge and three policemen. Senior police officials rushed to the town, where eight persons have been arrested and a bandh called.
The incident occurred around 9.45 am at a temple complex called Kalitola, 32 km south of Purulia. The lorry was on National Highway 32 and heading for Purulia when the driver came across a group of youths and children celebrating Ram Navami by dancing and singing in front of a 12-foot-tall Hanuman idol. The front mudguard of the vehicle hit Atanu Banerjee, pushing him into the path of the rear wheels of the vehicle, which crushed the child’s head.
The driver, Dayal Mahato, 35, stopped to see what had happened. But before he could get down, the crowd dragged him and the helper, Dolgobindo Mahato, 28, out and assaulted them. The mob then set fire to the lorry.
Personnel from the Balarampur police station half-a-kilometre away rushed to the spot and tried to rescue the two. The infuriated mob attacked the policemen, injuring officer-in-charge of the police station Kashinath Chatterjee on the chest, an assistant sub-inspector in his ankle, and two constables.
“Chatterjee, an uncle of the child, was knocked senseless for a few minutes after a heavy stone hit his chest,” said another uncle of the victim, Amar Banerjee.
The burning vehicle was pushed towards an empty field. A motorcycle belonging to the police was also torched by the mob. The lorry driver died on the spot, while the helper succumbed to injuries soon after reaching the district hospital in Purulia.
Three robbers looted some cash and mobile phones worth Rs 1.5 lakh from an electronics goods outlet near the crowded Colony More in Barasat around 8 this evening.
They fired 20 rounds, injuring three persons seriously, before two miscreants fled along Basirhat Road. However, their accomplice was caught by passersby and handed over to police after a thrashing. People put up a roadblock on National Highway 34. North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Basudeb Bag said Rs 25,000 was recovered from the arrested robbers.