A road blockade on the National Highway 34, where people demanded the uninterrupted electricity in the villages turned into battleground in Murshidabad’s Farakka on Sunday morning when villagers went loggerheads with the district police.
The gunfight claimed the life of 28-year-old villager and several others, including the police officers were critically injured and admitted to various local hospitals. The villagers claimed that the police gunned down Jamal Sheikh, resident of Balija Pukur area. The person was standing among the villagers when a bullet hit his waist. Sheikh was returning home from the power plant sitting on a lorry. His body was found 800 meter distance for the place where the clash was broken out.
However, the Congress MLA in Farakka assembly constituency alleged the man received bullet from police’s gun. Congress and CPI (M) in Murshidabad have called up a 12-hour general strike in the area.
But the district police demanded that the villagers were armed with country-made fire arms and crude bombs. The bullet, which Jamal received on his waist, was fired from villager’s gun. They even hurled bombs at the police vehicles and cars of Block Development Officer (BDO) and Joint Block Development Officer and later ransacked their car.
“Jamal was a contractual labour of the Farakka Power Plant and was sitting on the top of a lorry carrying the fly-ash bricks from the plant and crossing the Jigrimore on National Highway 34.
A bullet hit him on this waist. We believe that the bullet was fired by the unruly villagers towards police. But it missed its target and hit the man on the top of the lorry. The man was carried to the Jangipur Hospital by a police vehicle, but was declared brought death,” said a police officer.
Meanwhile, a high-level team from the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) and state power department reached the spot to take a stock of the incident. “There was some work which was going on in those villages. It was a development work which would have lead to the uninterrupted electricity and light to those villagers’ homes. It could also solve the problem of over loading. The continuous load-shedding in the area is the actually the fallout that development work is going on. I do not know why villagers had done this. There will be a divisional inquiry into the incident. I have sent the WBSEDCL chairman to the spot to investigate the details. I am also seeking cooperation from the villagers,” said state power and non-conventional energy source minister Sobhandeb Chatterjee.
However, the district police have also ensured a separate inquiry of the incident. The police have learnt that at least 24 villagers and 12 policemen were injured. The car of BDO and Joint BDO was ransacked. Joint BDO Shyamal Biswas and his driver were beaten up and they were hospitalised. Police have fired several rounds of bullets in the air and some shells of tear gas were pelted towards the errant villagers.
The villagers near the Jigrimore started a blockade of the National Highway but turned violent when police allegedly lathicharged them to withdraw the blockade. The inspector in charge of the Farakka was seriously injured by the brickbats of the villagers and he was sent to the local hospital. WBSEDCL chairman Rajesh Pandey and his team has started the investigation.
The villagers even ransacked some government-run buses and private cars in the middle of the road. The villagers were lived in the dark for last two days in the Farakka. The nonstop power cut made the people block the road, alleged some villagers.
However, the WBSEDCL officers have claimed that the milking was done in the area to inform them that the power distribution service may interrupt due to work in line. Some hooking, power theft and overloading problem have made the uninterrupted power cuts here, WBSEDCL officials claimed.
While addressing media at Nabanna, ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharman said some miscreants were involved in the incidents. They pushed villagers towards the police and hurled bombs and fired bullets at the policemen, who fired blanks three times in the air.