Burdwan, April 13: A crowded Burdwan station turned a virtual battlefield this afternoon after a hawker was hit by a bullet fired by a security guard at a gang of thieves trying to steal coal from a train.
Government Railway Police (GRP) sources said employees of a private security agency fired several shots at the coal thieves. One of the bullets hit Sheikh Muqtar, the hawker, standing at the foot of an over-bridge. Muqtar was rushed to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital. His condition was said to be serious.
Last week, local resident Sheikh Raju was injured as a security guard fired at coal thieves fleeing the station. That incident did not turn violent. Today’s did.
Moved by the sight of Muqtar lying in a pool of blood on the platform, more than 100 hawkers and passengers attacked the security personnel.
A section of the panic-stricken passengers ran for safe corners amid firing followed by chaos. People from the neighbouring areas poured into the station making it even more difficult for the police to bring the situation under control.
A GRP force went to the spot and tried to disperse the mob. It rescued eight security personnel from the angry mob, which wanted them back.
The mob gheraoed the GRP station. A section of the mob broke in and tried to snatch the rescued GRP personnel.
Haplessly outnumbered, GRP officials sought help from the Burdwan police station.
A free-for-all raged for more than two hours at the station with stones and mineral water bottles being hurled at the police incessantly.
Sources said the police had to resort to lathi charge to bring the situation under control. A large contingent moved in from the Burdwan police station to disperse the mob
“Randhir Sharma, the security personnel who allegedly fired the shot, has been arrested,” said Gour Sunder Roy, GRP circle inspector, Bandel.
“The situation could have been worse if the police did not intervene in time. There is a need to increase the number of personnel at the Burdwan GRP station to tackle such situations,” a senior official said.
Security at and around the the station was tightened to prevent fresh violence.
“Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is scheduled to pass through Burdwan on his way to Calcutta. We have ensured that there is no untoward incident,” a police official said.
Muqtar, who used to sell packaged drinking water on the platform, was from nearby Golappore. He was hit on the head, said fellow hawkers.