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West Bengal: Ration rage spills over

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 18, 2007

Durgapur, Sept. 16: The Bankura rice rage is spreading.

Two more ration dealers were attacked in Bankura hours after villagers broke up an “anti-imperialism” meeting and roughed up CPM leaders in Sonamukhi for ignoring complaints against “corrupt” suppliers.

Trouble spread to Kotalpukur in Borjora, around 50km from Sonamukhi, around 6.30pm when 250 villagers marched to local ration dealer Narayan Dutta’s house. Armed with bows and arrows, spears and axes, they surrounded the house.

“Come out, you corrupt ration dealer. Over the past one year, you have blackmarketed all our ration supplies of rice and wheat. We will do to you what the villagers have done to CPM leaders in Sonamukhi,” police quoted the villagers as shouting.

“Dutta panicked and took out his licensed revolver and opened fire on the mob. Five persons were injured,” said Shyamashish Roy, the subdivisional officer (Sadar), Bankura.

Soon, the crowd outside swelled to 2,000 and the villagers ordered Dutta to come out.

Some villagers opted for a dialogue from the Mithun Chakraborty-starrer, Minister Phatakeshto: “Marbo ekhaney, lash porbey shashaney (We will kill you here and the body will fall in the graveyard).”

“Dutta was scared and locked himself up in his two-storey house with wife and daughter. They threatened to set his house on fire,” a police officer said.

A police team was rushed from Borjora police station but the force was inadequate. The police retreated and tried to pacify the crowd through a jeep-mounted public address system.

Eventually, the Rapid Action Force had to be called in. But the villagers relented only after a senior officer assured them that Dutta would be arrested.

Dutta soon came out and the police whisked him to the police station in a jeep. A police squad has been stationed at Dutta’s house to protect his family.

In another incident in Gopalpur village, also in Borjora, about 400 villagers surrounded the two-storey house of local ration dealer Fazrur Rahman around 7.30pm.

They broke open the door, dragged him out of the house and beat him up, charging him with smuggling out rice and wheat supplies and selling them in the black market.

The villagers then stormed a godown in the ground floor and looted grain. The police eventually rescued Fazrur from the mob and took him to the station.

Bankura district magistrate Surendra Gupta has convened an all-party meeting tomorrow.

Bankura police has issued an alert across the district.


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