Shops & houses burn, bombs fly in Howrah clash
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- Published 11.03.08
Panchla, March 10: Over 50 shops were set on fire and several houses ransacked as two groups clashed with bombs and stones in a Howrah bazaar this morning.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been clamped in Panchla, about 30km from Calcutta.
At least five policemen were injured in the clash and it took over 17 fire tenders about two-and-a-half hours to douse the blaze in several pockets of the sprawling market.
A stone hit district magistrate Khalil Ahmed in the leg when he turned up at the spot. A crude bomb was hurled at superintendent of police N.K. Singh. He had a close shave.
“Things are now under control, “ chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said late in the afternoon.
The clash was the fallout of a trouble yesterday morning when Nasir Mullick turned up at Ashish Parui’s jewellery shop to pawn what he claimed was a gold bangle. Parui realised it was not gold and refused to pay Nasir.
An altercation followed, attracting many local people to the shop. Most of them sided with Parui and one of them hit Nasir on the head, leaving him with a deep cut.
Nasir returned in the evening with 100-odd youths.
The two sides decided to sort out the matter in the presence of village panchayat chief Hafizulla Mullick, who called a traders’ meeting today.
But Nasir lodged a police complaint and Parui was picked up last night. As the word spread, some 200 people surrounded the thana and demanded that either Parui be released or Nasir be arrested.
The shopkeepers dispersed around 2am but took out a procession around 8.30 today.
The marchers were allegedly pelted with stones, triggering the clash.
“Goons joined the streetfight, hurling bombs and setting shops on fire,” the district police chief said.
“We displayed utmost restraint,” he added.
The first police team fled after being outnumbered and reinforcements were called in from North and South 24-Parganas to tackle the situation. Eastern Frontier Rifles and RAF jawans were deployed.
Tarak Koley, 60, and his son Manabendra, 25, were trapped in their first floor home as the shop below was in flames. Firemen rescued them.