One person was killed and around 13 others injured, including nine policemen, in a clash, after a group of people blocked National Highway 34 in Murshidabad, West Bengal, demanding restoration of electricity to a village.
After talks failed, police resorted to lathi charge and the villagers responded by pelting stones. According to the police, some also threw small hand-made bombs in retaliation.
“To safeguard public property and after being attacked by bombs, we had to fire in the air. After the crowd dispersed, we found a body 200 metre from the spot. It had multiple injuries,” Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Anuj Sharma said in Kolkata.
“Prima facie something happened when the crowd was retreating. An enquiry is on,” he said.
The deceased has been identified as Jamal Sheikh (32) of Balida Pukur village bordering Jhikra village where there was no electricity for the last few days.
According to the police, Sheikh was not one of the protestors but was an innocent man standing at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was an innocent bystander who got caught in the middle of a protest when he was passing by the highway which linked the south and north of the state.
Residents of Jhikra and people from nearby villages started the demonstration at around 9:30 am on Sunday. Twenty-one people were arrested in the case so far.
Nine policemen, including the inspector-in-charge of Farakka police station, were injured in the clash, Sharma said, adding that the police found bomb remnants and two live bombs on the spot.
Four villagers who were injured during the clash were admitted to a hospital.
Two police vehicles, 15 buses and a car of a local government official were also damaged in the clash.
“Strict action will be taken against those who attacked the policemen and damaged public property,” Sharma said.
The blockade, which continued for around four hours, had put traffic out of gear. The situation is now under control, officials said.