The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Raid rumour spurs cop assault

Sujapur (Malda), Jan. 1: Angered by rumours that BSF jawans had seized cattle and misbehaved with women in Bakharpur village, 2 km from here, a mob of more than a thousand people attacked policemen and snatched two rifles and a wireless set before damaging 10 vehicles today. Picnickers travelling on NH34 were also not spared.

The inspector-in-charge (IC) of Kaliachak police station Sagar Saha and three other policemen were beaten up with lathis and the wooden end of scythes and kept confined in Bakharpur Primary School, 25 km from Malda town. The condition of the driver of the police Tata Sumo, Gautam Saha, is serious.

The men in khaki were rescued an hour later after the arrival of additional forces from nearby police stations. In the afternoon, the injured policemen were admitted to the Malda district hospital. The national highway was closed from 9 am to 3.30 pm, the first two hours for Id and later for the violence.

Though no one was arrested, Malda police superintendent Dilip Mondol and additional police superintendent Sujit Sarkar were camping at the spot till late in the evening. A company of RAF personnel have been deployed in the area.

Trouble started at 10 am, when residents of Bakharpur, who had gathered at a field about a kilometre from their houses for Id prayers, suddenly heard that BSF jawans were intimidating the women and forcibly taking away their cattle. The police started for the village after news reached them that hundreds of men had left the Idgah Maidan and were rushing towards Bakharpur.

The crowd, which could not find any BSF jawan in the village, marched up to NH34, 2 km away, and set up a road blockade. They then went on the rampage. While the police rifles were later recovered, the wireless set is still missing.

“We are not even sure if the BSF actually entered the village. I have spoken to senior BSF officers and they have told me that no operation to seize cattle took place today,” said the Malda police chief.

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