Storm-hit attack police

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  • Published 20.04.10

Raiganj, April 19: Police had to fire in the air and burst tear-gas shells as storm-hit villagers who had laid siege to a panchayat office in North Dinajpur demanding relief turned on them this evening.

Around 5.30pm, 1,500 people who had been dispersed earlier attacked the police from all sides at Sitgram on National Highway 34.

Sub-inspector Tapan Sen and two assistant sub-inspectors suffered deep cuts on their heads and bruises all over their bodies after they were beaten up mercilessly, subdivisional officer Pradip Acharya said. “They were lucky to have been rescued and hospitalised.”

A police van and a jeep were pushed into a ditch along the highway that connects Calcutta with North Dinajpur. Inspector-in-charge Sujit Ghosh said his force had no option but to fire in the air and burst tear gas.

Hundreds of villagers arrived at the Sitgram gram panchayat office at 1pm demanding tarpaulin sheets. Over 50,000 huts have been destroyed in the storm that struck five blocks of North Dinajpur on Tuesday midnight, but many families have alleged that they are yet to get any relief. Several panchayat leaders have fled homes after being attacked by villagers or fearing assault.

The Congress panchayat chief of Sitgram, Nabakumar Roy, blamed the CPM for the attack. District magistrate Ramanuj Chakrabarty said: “The distribution of relief has picked up. Today’s incident was politically motivated.”

Sajidul Haq, one of the two people detained, said: “We had come for tarpaulin sheets as we have been living in the open since the storm. A group got angry when they saw the police and were lathi-charged for demanding relief.”

Lok Sabha squall

In Parliament, Raiganj Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi went after the CPM after its members claimed Bengal had done its best to provide relief.

“Not even one tarpaulin or piece of cloth has reached the victims. The state government has failed,” Das Munshi said. Trinamul joined in.

CPM MPs sought Rs 920 crore from Delhi for the relief.