There are times when even the mango, the proverbial king of fruits, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.A man was killed and at least 10 others were injured in various clashes that erupted over illegal plucking of the fruit across Malda district, dubbed as the mango capital of West Bengal, over the last one month. Tajmul Sheikh (24) was critically injured after a clash over plucking mangoes erupted in the district’s Chaigharia village on June 21. He was rushed to the Malda Medical College and Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries the next day.Two others, including a woman, were also injured in the clash.Anarul Haque, a member of the Mashaldaha gram panchayat, said the fight was the culmination of a dispute over ownership rights of the orchard between the two families. “But we didn’t expect it to take such a bloody turn,” he added.Four people were injured in another clash at a mango orchard in Kaliachak’s Alipur village on June 18. There were allegedly beaten up by a gang of around 12 people who had descended on the orchard to steal its produce.Two others were also assaulted in a third incident that occurred in Ratua area the same month.As many as 30,000 hectares of land is under mango cultivation in Malda district, yielding around 3.5 lakh tonnes of Himsagar, Lyangra, Fazli and Laxmanbhog varieties of the fruit every year. This accounts for more than 50% of the state’s total mango cultivation.This year’s harvest is expected to be better than usual.While sticks are the most common weapon used by orchard owners to guard their crop, the most desperate among mango thieves come carrying sickles and other sharp weapons. They usually strike after sundown, taking advantage of the darkness to pluck the fruits.Orchards in Malda are usually unfenced, but guarded by four to five people.“This district produces the fruit in such abundance that there is no real need to steal. I am surprised at the clashes. I can’t remember the last time somebody died in a fight over mangoes,” said Kamalesh Behani, orchard owner and vice-president of the Malda Merchant Association.“We have launched a probe into the murder of Tajmul Sheikh,” said Malda police superintendent Arnab Ghosh.