The police in Birbhum allegedly fired on Tuesday at villagers who were demanding a better deal from a coal-mining firm following their displacement, reviving issues of land conflict in West Bengal.
On Tuesday between 4.30 and 4.45am, the villagers attacked a team of about 150 policemen, including the superintendent of police, additional superintendent of police and officers-in-charge, who went there to recover earth-moving equipment the locals had seized from the company, Bengal EMTA. “While we were standing on a narrow road and planning how to approach the spot, we were attacked with arrows, stones, firearms and bombs,” an injured policeman told HT.
The villagers damaged 10 police vehicles also. They complained seven among them were injured in police firing.
"I was shot in the leg while we were preventing the police from taking away the machinery," said Purnima Dom.
The secretary of the Krishi Bhumi Raksha Committee (KBRC), Joydeep Majumder, said, “Besides Purnima Dom, four others sustained bullet injuries.” CM Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe into the incident in the evening..
Earlier, home secretary Basudeb Banerjee said, “The police did not fire at them. The district superintendent of police told me so.” However, the home secretary did not explain how the police countered the villagers’ attack. "You can draw your own conclusion," Banerjee said.
The genesis of the trouble was the granting of mining rights to Bengal EMTA and DVC that acquired 3,500 acres, spread over 16 villages. The land was acquired for lifting coal for a DVC-run thermal power plant. The villagers formed the KBRC and began demanding more compensation and rehabilitation. “The locals were rigid in their stand. We had offered the amount decided by the government... But they didn’t allow us to start work," an official associated with the firm said.