Two people were killed and several others were injured in clashes with the police on Tuesday in Bhangar area in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas. People protesting against land acquired for a power project blocked roads and set police vehicles on fire. The government deployed teams of Rapid Action Force in the region to prevent further violence.
Both victims died of bullet injuries. Residents of the area claimed that they were killed by police bullets. However, the officers denied the claims and accused the protestors of using firearms. “There was no firing from the police side. A large number of police personnel have been injured following firing and bombing by the agitators,” Sunil Kumar Choudhary, Superintendent of Police (South 24 Parganas) told The Indian Express.
The administration said “outsiders” and Maoists were involved in the incident. An unidentified protestor told The Times of India that scientists, environmentalists, students from Jadavpur University, and Left-leaning parties were supporting their cause.
Farmers have been protesting against a Power Grid substation project since October 2016. They have held that they did not get the market value of their land acquired in 2013. The construction work was suspended around two weeks ago after strong opposition.
Protests intensified on Monday after one of the leaders of the agitation was detained by the police. He was later set free. The ruling Trinamool Congress party had sent representatives to take stock of the situation, but the agitators did not allow them to enter the area.
State Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had been informed about the unrest. ”Work on the project was stopped two weeks ago. When their demands were already being considered, why the fresh violence? This needs to be investigated,” he told the newspaper.