One person was killed and five others were injured as railway protection force (RPF) officers clashed with hawkers at the Malda Town railway station in West Bengal on Monday.
Sources said that at around 9am, a few RPF officers allegedly caught a hawker for violating rules at the station and beat him up.
Soon after, many hawkers and neighbours of the injured man allegedly gathered at the station protesting against the RPF's action.
"When the hawkers went to the RPF camp office to protest and logdge a complaint, the officers misbehaved and drove everyone away with a mild lathi charge," said Subal Ghosh, secretary of the hawker union of the Bharatiya Majdur Sangha.
The situation soon spun out of control as the hawkers began retaliating against the RPF. The force fired 13 rounds into the air in a desperate attempt to disperse the mob.
An officer, Samarendra Samanta (35) died after he was allegedly attacked by the mob. The hawkers' union however refutes charges that they were involved in the death of the officer.
The RPF commandant of Malda division S S Tiwari said-“No hawker was beaten up by RPF jawans. Instead they created trouble inside the platform with the demand to allow them to ferry food and other items. They vandalized the food stall of IRCTC. When RPF jawans tried to resist them 300-odd persons attacked them with lathis and bricks.”
"The hawkers barged in to the camp and got hold of Samanta. They beat him to death. When the whole incident happened there were only 7-8 jawans inside the camp. So it was literally impossible for them to control the mob. We had to fire a few rounds to disperse the hawkers.”