| The damaged police camp. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Jateswar (Alipurduar), Oct. 22: A mob of over a thousand set fire to a police camp here yesterday after an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) beat up a butcher, allegedly without any reason.
“We have received complaints against ASI Pankaj Biswas, the in-charge of the camp, and he has been suspended,” said Alipurduar additional superintendent of police (ASP) K.B. Dorji.
The ASP had earlier led a bigger police force to the spot with fire-fighters to put out the blaze and rescue the seven policemen, including the ASI, who were cooped up on the first floor of the wooden structure that served as the camp.
Dorji said the Alipurduar subdivisional police officer, Deborshi Dutta, has been asked to conduct a probe. Biswas will remain suspended till Dutta submits his report. “In the meantime, the personnel at the camp have been replaced,” the ASP added.
The police camp is located in a marketplace in Jateswar in Falakata, 47km from Alipurduar town. Yesterday, the market was teeming with people because of a fair that is held there on Dashami.
According to eyewitnesses, around 8.30am, Baren Roy, a local butcher, hung a goat on a tree adjacent to the police camp and proceeded to skin it. The sight prompted Biswas to come out of the camp and beat Roy, who is in his late fifties, with a stick.
The incident took place in the view of the people who had gathered for the fair and they immediately confronted the ASI and demanded an explanation.
Biswas allegedly refused to talk to them and even waved his revolver at the crowd, before disappearing inside the camp.
The mob soon swelled to more than a thousand and the people set fire to the two-storeyed building.
“They wanted to get the ASI out of the camp so that they could beat him up,” said Prasanta Dutta, the local member of Jateswar II gram panchayat.
However, the swift arrival of the larger police force, led by Dorji, calmed the situation. The residents, too, realised that the fire could spread to nearby shops and helped the fire-fighters put out the blaze.
The camp was set up in Jateswar a few years ago when the area was a KLO hotbed.