One killed in police firing over religious festival

Dispute between two communities over land ignited violence

One person died while three were injured when police opened fire on an agitating mob in Nadia district on Wednesday.

The incident happened at Houlia crossing in Tehatta of Nadia district, after a group of villagers blocked a road demanding the government’s permission to celebrate Jagaddhatri puja in the locality, which they claimed to have been doing for the last 15 years.

According to the villagers, there was a minor scuffle with the police following which the latter opened fire on the agitators.

However, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha had a different story to tell. “There was a dispute between two communities for a long time over the land where the puja was supposed to be organised. On Tuesday, during an administrative meeting to resolve the issue, a group of people turned violent and put police vehicles on fire,” Purakayastha said.

“Not only that, when the police were nearly successful in dispersing the mob, another group of people gathered near SDPO Sailesh Sharma’s residence, armed with bombs and weapons. The life of Sharma’s wife and one-year-old daughter was under threat and the police had no other option but to resort to firing.”

Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” Purakayastha said: “The police fired three rounds which killed one person named Ashoke Sen and injured another named Sudhamoy Ghosh. Eight policemen have been injured in the incident and five people have been arrested.” “The police have been deployed in the area to avoid any untoward situation. Demonstration and procession have been banned in the area. We request everybody to maintain peace and harmony,” Purakayastha added.

This is the second incident of police firing in the last two weeks and the fourth during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as the Bengal chief minister.

On November 6, the police opened fire on a group of villagers at Loba village under Dubrajpur police station area in Birbhum district in which six villagers were injured. The villagers had refused to hand over an earth moving equipment they had seized from a joint venture company six months ago.

Previously, the police had opened fire on demonstrators at Hanskhali in Nadia district and Magrahat in South 24 Parganas, in 20111.

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