The protesters got agitated, blocked NH34 and attacked some local shops and a couple of vehicles.
Business as usual in Bengal? Not in this case.
The group that was protesting against the citizenship law was returning on Wednesday afternoon after holding a peaceful demonstration at the district magistrate’s office in Raiganj, North Dinajpur, officials said.
On NH34, around 40 armed youths attacked the group of protesters. The attackers hurled crude bombs, fired gunshots and charged at the protesters with sharp weapons.
“They indiscriminately lobbed bombs at the protesters’ vehicles and fired in the open. As some of the vehicles came to a halt, they also attacked the protesters with sharp weapons. We were frightened to see armed youths roaming in the area,” said a resident who witnessed the attack.
Panic spread, more so because there were some children in the vehicles. But as the protesters came out of the vehicles, the vastly outnumbered attackers fled.
Three people were injured, two hurt by sharp weapons and the third hit by splinters from a bomb. Seeing them bleeding, the protesters blocked the highway and targeted shops and vehicles.
Police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control. Senior officers spoke to the protesters, who demanded immediate arrest of the attackers. They also said they had come from remote areas of Itahar block and needed security to return home.
Around 6pm, the blockade was withdrawn. Police escorted the protesters back home. A search is on for the attackers.
“The demonstration on my office premises was peaceful. But whatever happened later is undesirable. We are making all efforts to arrest the attackers,” said Arvind Meena, DM, North Dinajpur.