The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ration flames leap in loot and frenzy

Oct. 2: Barrels of kerosene and bags of wheat and rice were looted from ration shops, their owners were beaten up and houses ransacked as the flames of protest against corruption in the public distribution system singed Birbhum.

At Purbapara, Nanoor, villagers stormed kerosene distributor B.N. Goenka’s godown.

As a drum rolled on the ground in front of the godown, the mob set fire to the fuel that spilled over and flames leapt high in the air.

The villagers cleaned out 125 barrels within minutes.

As the mob went on the rampage, another section of villagers ransacked ration dealer Subhashish Dutta’s house, about 50 feet away. They looted all the rice, sugar and wheat in the shop. Subhashish was dragged out and thrashed.

The mob dispersed seeing policemen charging towards them.

The police searched the locality, about 230km from Calcutta, and recovered 10 barrels hidden in the bushes.

Around 6.30pm, a mob at Feugram, also in Nanoor, raided Nabakumar Saha’s shop. He was severely beaten up. His family fled.

Some villagers even attacked the houses of Nabakumar’s relatives.

When the police arrived, villagers armed with iron rods confronted them.

Nanoor officer-in-charge Kartick Das needed six stitches on his head. Three of his colleagues were also injured.

Sanatan Chandra, who owns a ration shop at Lautore in Mayureswar, 265km from Calcutta, met the same fate. His shop and a haystack next to it were set on fire. Sanatan’s wife and brother fled before the villagers entered their house.

“The attackers had fled by the time the police arrived, 30 minutes later. Firemen doused the blaze,” said Sandip Chattoraj, the Mayureswar officer-in-charge.

At Nimo, 10 km away, Swapan Mondal faced the villagers’ wrath.

Around the same time, about 100 people surrounded Dhirendranath Roy’s shop at Khoshkadampur in Bolpur.

Roy was let off after he promised to pay for the wheat he could not supply.

A worried administration today brought in 100 constables from neighbouring districts. “They will be deployed in areas like Bolpur, Sainthia, and Mayureswar, which we think are vulnerable,” district police chief S.S. Panda said.

Western range inspector-general Arun Gupta reviewed the situation at Suri.

A man was killed yester- day when the police had to fire to break a gathering of over 2,000 people protesting against ration corruption at Labhpur.

The Trinamul Congress said Ayub Sheikh, who was killed, was its supporter. The Congress observed a “black day”, saying he was its man.

Ayub’s sister-in-law Majeda said: “We don’t which party he belonged to. He left home and never returned.”

Burdwan rage

The ration dealer at Mousha village in Burdwan’s Manteswar, 155km from Calcutta, was held hostage till late evening. The villagers demanded Rs 1 lakh from him and the BDO joined the negotiations.

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