A clash between private security guards of a Shimla-based contractor and protesting labourers left four persons dead and nine others injured at the upcoming campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kamand, 18 km from Mandi, on Saturday
The clash was triggered after security guards allegedly opened fire at labourers, who were protesting over delay in salaries and lack of basic amenities at the construction site in Salgai village.
Hearing gunshots, villager rushed to the site and attacked the contractor’s men in retaliation to firing. The angry mob chased the security guards, who ran downhill towards the river to save themselves.
Later, bodies of two security guards were recovered by the police. Two more succumbed to their injuries while being shifted to the Mandi zonal hospital. The deceased were identified as Harry, Tej Singh and Simerjeet, all residents of Punjab. The identity of the fourth victim is yet to be ascertained.
Sources said the mob also torched two cars and a jeep parked outside central public works department office at Salagi village.
The contractor had hired these guards some weeks ago. They were seen roaming in the area with guns and swords, said sources.
On Friday, the labourers had organised a protest outside the Mandi deputy commissioner’s office demanding better facilities. They had even threatened to go on strike from Saturday. The district administration, however, failed to gauge the seriousness of the matter and didn’t alert the police.
Mandi superintendent of police Mohit Chawla confirmed that four persons have been killed in the clash. ”Preliminary investigation reveals that firing by one of the security guards on labourers angered the mob that later went on rampage,” he said.
A case under Indian Penal Code sections 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly) and section 25 of the Arms Act have been registered at Padhar police station. Assistant sub-inspector Govind Ram has been appointed as the investigating officer.