Agitation, roadblocks at West Bengal's Bhangar yet again

Kolkata: Nearly three months after the violent clash between the villagers and state police that left two people dead, residents of West Bengal's Bhangar once again began an agitation against 'police atrocities' on Sunday afternoon by putting up road blockades at various points.

The inhabitants of the area's villages blockaded various parts of Haroa-Lauhati road using tree trunks, bricks and guard rails, accusing police of wrongfully arresting and harassing them. A large number of women and children also organised a sit-in to protest against alleged police violence.

"The incidents of police intimidation have significantly increased in our villages in recent months. Police have wrongfully arrested nine of our people from Bhangar. Today (Sunday) they have forcefully detained one more person who was a part of our anti-land acquisition movement," an agitator at Bhangar's Notunhaat village claimed.

"Our protests will go on unless police release the villager," another person said.

Police said the road blocks were made at various entry points of the villages in Bhangar Block 2, but denied having any knowledge of the alleged arrest.

"The roads were blocked at the entry points of Notunhaat, Khamarait and Padmapukur villages. However, we have no information about the villager's arrest," said an officer from adjoining Kashipur police station.

Police said the blockades were removed at around 7 p.m. after top police officers negotiated the issue with the agitators.

"The road block has now been removed. Our top police officials are negotiating the situation with the agitators. However police did not enter the villages," the officer added.

South 24 Parganas district's Bhangar, known for its history of political violence, was on the boil during the third week of January over 'forced' acquisition of 16 acres of farmland -- spread over the villages of Khamarait, Machhi Bhanga, Tona and Padmapukur -- by the state government for the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL).

The area flared up when angry protesters fought a pitched battle with police when the law-keepers tried to enter Padmapukur village. The agitators hurled stones and bricks surrounding the police vehicles and also torched some police vans.

Two persons were shot and a few others got injured in the clash.

Following the incident, the West Bengal government officially announced the cancellation of the power grid project from the region and said no land would be taken from the villagers if they are unwilling.