Policy

Mamata orders probe into Birbhum incident; Minister blames CPI (M)

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on November 07, 2012 Published on November 07, 2012

Clashes over land: Villagers with the banner of Agricultural Land Protection Committee agitating against the clash between police and villagers in Birbhum district on Wednesday. The Chief Minister absolved the villagers of any blame, saying they were instigated.   -  PTI

A day after a clash between villagers and policemen at a village in the Birbhum district of West Bengal (nearly 200 km from the city), the State Government went on damage-control mode.

While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was quick to call the incident “unfortunate”, she ensured an overnight transfer of the district’s Superintendent of Police (SP - Birbhum) Rishikesh Meena and ordered an “administrative inquiry”.

Thirty three people (27 policemen and six villagers) were injured in a clash that took place in Lobo village in Birbhum in the wee hours of Tuesday over a land acquisition issue for a mining project. The police contingent that was attacked and allegedly opened fire on the protesters was led by the SP (Birbhum).

Conspiracy Theory

“Whatever has happened there (in Birbhum), should not have occurred. It’s unfortunate,” Banerjee told reporters at Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday afternoon.

Denying reports that the police had opened fire, Banerjee claimed that police personnel had maintained “utmost restraint” despite being attacked. “The police has shown great patience in resolving the situation,” she said.

Banerjee, though, absolved villagers too and said that the villagers who had attacked the police with bows, arrows and bomb, and claimed they had been “instigated” by some people.

According to her, it was a deliberate ploy to foment trouble by pitching villagers against the police.

Action taken

“The incident has nothing to do with land acquisition. The Government's policy is not to do anything with force. False propaganda is being spread,” Banerjee claimed.

According to the Chief Minister, the Government has already ordered an administrative inquiry by the ADG and Inspector General of Police (Law and order) Surojeet Kar Purokayasta.

“Apart from the inquiry, SP - Birbhum has been asked to go on leave. Whoever is found guilty will be punished,” she said.

Rishikesh Meena has been replaced by Murlidhar Sharma.

Sharma, who took charge as the SP on Wednesday, was previously the Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Detective Department).

Opposition Blamed

Meanwhile, State Industry and Commerce Minister, Partha Chatterjee, who went to meet villagers on Wednesday said: “I am with the villagers and we will give protection to them.”

He, however, blamed the Opposition parties, including the CPI (M) and the Congress, for instigating villagers.

“The villagers had no direct involvement in the incident. Outsiders brought in by the CPI (M) and Congress created the trouble,” he said.

>abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 07, 2012
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