At least 1 dead, many injured in clashes over power project in Bhangar in West Bengal

The villagers in Bhangar have alleged that the police resorted to unprovoked lathicharge and teargassing

Arguments over the construction of an electric sub-station at Bhangor in South 24 Parganas took a violent turn after at least one person was killed and ten police vehicles were torched by a mob torched. The clashes took place during protests against acquisition of land for a power project in Bhangar in West Bengal on Tuesday.

Police had to resort to bursting teargas shells and lathicharge to bring the situation under control. A senior police officer said they were attacked by villagers and a few of them were injured by stones and bricks thrown at them.

However, the villagers have alleged that the police resorted to unprovoked lathicharge and teargassing. But Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay denied any police action. “Police did not retaliate but only chased away the
villagers when stones and bricks were thrown at them,” he told PTI.

The protests come despite the state government halting the project following protests by farmers demanding more compensation for their land. “I had invited them (farmers and villagers) several times for a meeting but they kept on refusing to meet me. The state government has stopped the project as per their demand. Still they are creating problem in the area. I do not see any logic behind this … I have doubts about their real intention,” Chattopadhyay added.

Police were posted at neighbouring Machhi Bhanga, and Tona during the night to avert any untoward incidents. District Magistrate PB Salim said the situation is “totally under control” and the administration was open to discussions with the villagers and farmers.

TMC Vice-president Mukul Roy who rushed to Bhangar, said “Our Chief Minister has clearly said that if people do not want the project it will not happen. Then who all are protesting and for what ? … It’s clear that these people do not want development in the state.”