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Scuffle breaks out among New Town hawkers

Group opposed to removal of stalls ‘attacks’ NKDA officials, police teams

Snehal Sengupta | Published 24.12.23, 06:25 AM
Closed stalls in the Jyotinagar market area after the clash on Saturday

Closed stalls in the Jyotinagar market area after the clash on Saturday

Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Scuffle broke out among two groups of hawkers and later a group allegedly attacked a team of officials from the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA), who had gone to clear the Jyotinagar market area of encroachment, on Saturday afternoon.

The group also allegedly attacked a couple of police teams who had responded to calls for help made by NKDA team. The clash left several NKDA officials and at least one civic police volunteer injured. Two of them had to be hospitalised with head injuries and needed stitches, a senior officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said.

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A large part of Jyotinagar market on the fringes of New Town comprises shacks set up on stilts sunk in the bed of the Bagjola canal. These hampered the flow of the canal.

Most stalls are made out of flammable materials like wood, plywood and bamboo poles and all the stalls encroach not only on the canal bank and pavements but also the canal itself impeding the natural gradient and in effect the water flow.

The NKDA, which provides civic services to New Town, had served notices on the owners of these stalls and the market committee asking them to remove the stalls as the canal would get dredged and a sewage treatment plant pipeline, which will benefit large swathes of New Town, would be laid.

On Saturday, a team of NKDA officials reached the spot and first spoke with a group of hawkers who had agreed to dismantle the stalls, an NKDA official said.

Later, a larger group of hawkers opposed the idea and attacked the smaller group of men who had agreed to the process of removing the stalls.

“They were arguing among themselves and it soon led to fisticuffs. They then turned their ire at us and used bricks, stones and lathis to beat us. One of our colleagues received a blow on the head and needed multiple stitches. Three of us had to be taken to a hospital with multiple injuries,” an NKDA official, who was at the spot at the time of the clash, said later on Saturday.

A senior NKDA official said faced with such circumstances they informed the police.

At least two police teams, one from Eco Park police station and another from New Town police station, reached the spot. Seeing the police teams, the hawkers attacked them too and left a civic police volunteer injured. Following this reinforcements were sent.

“We have lodged a formal complaint at the Bidhannagar commissionerate,” an NKDA official said.

As of now the NKDA has decided to stop the laying of the water pipeline and has also notified the irrigation department about the matter.

“We also don’t want to take chances and will stop work till the police guarantee the safety of our men,” a senior irrigation department official said.

A senior officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said they had received the complaint. It has set up a police post in the area to prevent further flare-ups.

“We are looking into the matter and have started an investigation. Arrests will be made soon,” said a senior officer of Bidhannagar police commissioner.

Last updated on 24.12.23, 06:25 AM
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