Midnapore, March 18: Police allegedly fired teargas shells this afternoon to disperse about 1,500 Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities activists who were marching towards a police outpost at Manikpara in West Midnapore to gherao it.
Villagers said the police also fired four rounds in the air, a claim denied by the cops.
The activists, mostly women, had gathered from neighbouring Bandhgora, Salboni and Manikpara gram panchayat areas. Many of them were armed with sticks, spears, and bows and arrows.
A resident of Bandhgora village said the procession was brought out to protest police torture of villagers. The activists also demanded that the joint forces be withdrawn.
The camp, which has about 100 CRPF and state police personnel, had been alerted about the procession.
On December 10 last year, Maoists, who had mingled with committee activists in a procession, had fired at a police camp in Salbonis Satpati. A villager was killed when the police fired back.
Today, as soon as we came to know that the villagers were approaching, we took position, a police officer said.
When the procession was about 300 metres from the outpost, the police lobbed around 10 tear-gas shells.
A committee activist from Shirshi village alleged that police had also fired four rounds in the air. The cops also cane-charged the villagers, the activist said. Around 10 villagers have been detained. District superintendent of police Manoj Verma accused the Maoists of forcing the villagers to take out the procession.