Beyond Metros, West Bengal

Bengal land acquisition protest takes a violent spin

The ongoing protests against forceful possession of land for a power project in the Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal took a violent turn Tuesday. A mob wrecked at least ten police vehicles. The protests have intensified over the last two days

A man was brought dead to a Kolkata hospital with a bullet wound. However, police denied opening fire and claimed protesters had guns and were firing. In another report from India Today, Police officials said they were investigating the possible involvement of “outsiders” and Maoists in the violence.

The man declared dead at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata was identified by police as Mafizul Ali Khan (26), a resident of Bhangar. South 24 Parganas SP Sunil Kumar Choudhary told The Indian Express: “There was no firing from the police side. A large number of police personnel have been injured following firing and bombing by the agitators.”

Also read: Villagers violently protest against anti-land acquisition in Bengal

Situations have worsened in Bhangar since 2016 as farmers opposed the construction of a Power Grid substation to transmit power between West Bengal and a part of Bihar. In 2013, about 13 acres of land was acquired for the project from farmers who later challenged saying they had not been paid the market value of the land. They opposed the project and demanded complete of their land.

Work at the project site was suspended two weeks as per the instruction of the State government. Two TMC senior leaders, Abdur Rezzak Mollah and Mukul Roy, were sent to take hold of the situation on the ground but could not enter the affected area. Matters came to a head Monday when Kalu Sheikh, one of those spearheading the agitation, was detained by police. This led to more protests and Sheikh was set free.

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