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Extort fury at cops after truck kills two

Malda road turns battlefield

Two police vehicles which were ransacked and pushed into a roadside ditch at Kaliachak on Tuesday

Raiganj: Chowrangi More, a prominent locality in Kaliachak on NH-34 in Malda district, turned into a battlefield on Tuesday as a section of locals clashed with police when the law-keepers tried to remove them and clear the highway.

The locals were staging a blockade to protest the death of two residents in an accident early in the morning.

As the police resorted to lathicharge, the mobs retaliated and attacked the law-enforcers. Police vehicles were pushed off the road, ransacked and the cops attacked with bricks and stones. The gridlock lasted five hours, bringing traffic to a halt on the key road leading to north Bengal. Five policemen and some locals were injured.

Sources said a temporary check-point had been set at Chowrangi More, around 100 km from Raiganj, for vehicle checks and a truck tried to dodge it around 5am.

"The driver was manoeuvring the truck to avoid checking and increased the speed. Three people were standing off the highway with a motorcycle. The truck mowed them down. The truck sped away and the policemen rushed to help the injured," said a resident.

Naimuddin Sheikh, 28, a resident of Uttar Dariyapur village in Kaliachak, died on the spot. Abdul Barek Sheikh, 22, succumbed to his injuries in hospital. Samed Sheikh, the third, is in Malda Medical College and Hospital.

As word about the deaths spread, locals blocked the highway, not allowing the police to even take away Naimuddin's body.

"It is common practice among drivers to try and escape policemen who stop trucks to extort money. That is why the accident happened and two people lost their lives," said a demonstrator.

As the blockade continued, a team from Kaliachak police station reached the spot and asked the demonstrators to clear the highway, but they did not relent.

The cops then tried to drive away the demonstrators with batons. The mob dispersed but returned soon, ransacking a truck and a police vehicle. Two other police vehicles were pushed into a roadside ditch. Some threw bricks and stones at the police team.

As the clash continued, Dipak Sarkar, the additional superintendent of police (rural) of Malda, reached the spot with additional forces. Police again resorted to lathicharge, cleared the highway around 10am and sent the body for post-mortem. More forces have been deployed in the area to prevent further trouble.

"We will conduct an inquiry to find out what led to such violent incidents. Also, an investigation will be carried out into allegations by some locals against some of our men who were manning the check-point," Malda police chief Arnab Ghosh said.

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