The damaged windscreen of a vehicle after the clash at Keoratala burning ghat on Tuesday morning. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
A gang of criminals went on the rampage at Keoratala burning ghat on Tuesday morning, stopping cremations for nearly two hours. The goons smashed windshields of parked vehicles and ransacked shops.
Local residents said the attack was the fallout of a gang war on Monday night. The residents put up a blockade on Sahanagar Road for half an hour to protest police inaction. No arrest has been made in this connection.
“Cremations had to be stopped around 10am. There were at least 20 bodies in the queue then,” said Deb Dwaipayan Chattopadhyay, the chief municipal health officer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. The violence continued till 1pm.
According to the police, the trouble began after the first group came to the burning ghat to cremate an associate. They got into a brawl with some taxi drivers and then with some local criminals.
“Several members of Sridhar’s gang turned up at Keoratala around midnight to cremate the body of their associate Sejo, who had died of natural causes,” said an officer of Kalighat police station.
“As the men were buying items required for cremation from stalls near the burning ghat, they got into an altercation with some taxi drivers. The criminals beat up the cabbies and were about to damage their vehicles when a group of local goons tried to protect them, resulting in a clash,” added the officer.
Sridhar’s associates came back to the crematorium on Tuesday morning and went on the rampage. They ransacked shops whose owners had helped the other group the night before.
The goons also damaged several cars with iron rods and lathis.
Bapi, a tea stall-owner, said: “We pleaded with the police to take some action, but they completely ignored us.”
Acting deputy commissioner (south) R. Shiva Kumar claimed that a “massive” hunt is on to track down the culprits.