The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bloodspill after rampage for road

Karimpur (Nadia), Dec. 12: Police bullets killed a villager and injured another when a clash over land for the construction of a road here went out of hand.

The police said about 500 people were fighting a pitched battle this morning over laying a road that would lead to a primary school at Pathanpara, about 200 km from Calcutta. The villagers turned on the police realising that they had come to stop the construction of the 3-km stretch following a complaint from Samshed Ali Sheikh, whose land was being encroached.

Special inspector-general Narayan Ghosh said at Writers’ Buildings the police opened fire after many of them, including officer-in-charge of Thanerpara police station Anjan Ghosh, were injured by missiles hurled by the warring villagers.

“The situation would have gone out of hand as the angry mob was armed with sharp weapons. The police had to fire,” he added.

The police identified the dead as Ansar Ali Sheikh, 27. Four people, including Ghosh and two constables, have been admitted to the Saktinagar Hospital. The condition of Kuber Sheikh, 25, who suffered a bullet injury, and the officer was said to be critical. By evening, 35 people had been arrested.

Samshed Ali had told the police that the local panchayat samiti, which was overseeing the construction of the road, had encouraged the villagers to take over his land despite an order to the contrary from the subdivisional executive magistrate. “Samshed told the officer-in-charge of Thanerpara last night that a road was being built on his land despite a court order against it,” said district superintendent of police Benoy Chakraborty. He is now camping at Thanerpara.

Chakraborty said Ghosh sent three policemen to Pathanpara from the nearby Bagmara camp following Samshed’s complaint. “When the trio asked the villagers to stop construction, they were tied to a tree. The officer-in-charge went with reinforcements early this morning to see what happened to the policemen, but the villagers who were clashing then attacked Ghosh, damaged his vehicle and snatching rifles from two policemen. Mobbed by the villagers, the force fired in defence,” said Chakraborty.

The district police chief described the situation this morning as “a battlefield”. “It is sad that Ansar Ali died in the firing. But we were helpless,” he said.

“One of the rifles snatched was found in a field later this morning,” said additional superintendent Biswarup Ghosh.

The villagers contested the police’s claim and alleged that they fired without provocation. “My husband went to the spot hearing an altercation. He was in no way involved in it but the policemen fired when he and other villagers requested them not to stop work,” said Bhattojan Bibi, who was widowed.

By evening, most men in the village had fled home fearing police harassment.

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