Mango Seller's Arrest Triggers Protest, Unrest Flares Up Again In West Bengal's Bhangar

Violence erupted first in Bhangar in January this year when villagers opposed the construction of a power grid.

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Mango Seller's Arrest Triggers Protest, Unrest Flares Up Again In West Bengal's Bhangar

Two people were shot dead during clashes over land acquisition for the project.

Bhangar, West Bengal:  Bombs, guns and roadblocks returned to Bhangar, about 40 kilometres from Kolkata, and a Trinamool Congress office was ransacked after a man was arrested by the police for protesting the setting up a gas insulated power substation in the area. 

The protester, Kismet Ali Mollah, was picked up by the police from Polerhat market where he had gone to sell mangoes. As news spread about his arrest, angry villagers got together and blocked roads in protest. Some alleged Trinamool workers hurled bombs to disperse the crowd and abducted two protesters. 

Villagers then marched to the Trinamool office in north Gazipur, ransacked it, and damaged furniture. They pulled down party and Indian flags and Mamata Banerjee's photographs. 

Trinamool supporters of local strongman Sheikh Arabul in retaliation threw bombs at the villagers and even fired gunshots. The villagers, according to some reports, also hit back with bombs.  

The police managed to enter the area only after two hours around 4 pm. So far, there have been no reports of anyone having suffered any injuries. 

Trouble in Bhangar erupted in January this year when villagers opposed the construction of a power grid. They claimed the electric pylons were destroying their agricultural land. Calling the project a health hazard, they claimed that it was making their land unfit for sale. 

Two people were shot dead during clashes between villagers and the police over land acquisition for a power sub-station on January 17. But it's still not clear who shot at them. They were demanding an assurance from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that their land will not be forcibly acquired by the government for the project, which they were told was supposed to be a power plant. However, a power grid is now being built with high tension wires. Following several arrests, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was handed over the probe into the violence. 

On Thursday, the Calcutta High Court expressed displeasure at the CID's inability to confirm who fired at the two persons who died in the clash and has sought answers when the court opens after summer break. 

According to the CPI (M), the arrest of Mr Mollah was a reaction to the court pulling up the CID. According to reports, alleged TMC workers threw bombs in some villages to terrorise people there. There has been no official confirmation of the attacks so far. 
 

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