In the second case of police firing in eight days in West Bengal, a villager in Nadia district died on Wednesday and another was injured when security forces tried to disperse a crowd demonstrating on a religious issue.
The problem started when the administration disallowed
Jagatddhatri (an incarnation of Durga) puja at a spot because it is supposedly a Muslim prayer spot.
The deceased was identified as Ashok Sen (42), a trader who was shot in the chest and was declared "brought dead" at the district hospital. Sudhamoy Ghosh was admitted to the same hospital and was reportedly in a serious condition.
Locals said the police fired three rounds at 8:10am, about 40 minutes after the blockade started on the Krishnanagar-Karimpur state highway.
The police fired on agitators, who had blocked the road to press their demand for allowing the puja at the conventional site, where it was being held for 10 years. The crowd also set four police vehicles on fire.
Nadia district magistrate Abhinav Chandra said the puja committee was asking for permission to set up a pandal on government land, but the administration didn't give approval because it decided to stop both puja and prayer.
Though initially the police denied allegations of firing, midday television channels aired pictures of a helmet-wearing policeman directing his pistol at the crowd at a place about 150 metres from the sub-divisional police officer's residence.
Additional director general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha said: "The police fired in self-defence. The crowd attacked the residence of the sub-divisional police officer, where his wife and daughter were present."
Government sources said chief minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an emergency meeting of top police officers with the chief secretary.
Opposition parties seized the opportunity to corner the government.
Congress MP and minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury said: "The police are becoming trigger-happy and there is an attempt on the part of the government to deny everything."
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