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Police ‘bribe’ hunt & firing kill 2

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2009

Truck speeding to escape cops mows down motorcyclist, mob attacks force

OUR CORRESPONDENT

30truck.jpg The truck and a police vehicle that were set ablaze by villagers in Chandrakona. (Kumaresh Roy)

Midnapore, Aug. 29: A truck driver apparently speeding away from bribe-hungry cops, mowed down a motorcyclist today in West Midnapore, sparking mob violence that led to a youth’s death in police firing.

Around 8.30am, when Lakshmi Ari was riding down the Ramjivanpur bypass in Chandrakona on his motorbike, a paddy-laden truck crushed him. Fifty-year-old Lakshmi died on the spot.

“I saw the truck running at high speed and crushing the motorist while trying to avoid the policemen who had definitely targeted the driver to extort money. The policemen generally ask for money from drivers here,” said Samir Mondal, 40, who was in his betel leaf shop nearby.

Almost immediately, around 200 villagers gathered at the spot, about 120km from Calcutta, and started throwing stones at the truck. They then set the vehicle ablaze.

Not finding the driver, who had escaped, the mob turned on five policemen at the accident spot and started thrashing them.

30jeep.jpgAll the while, Lakshmi’s bleeding body lay on the road.

The policemen, outnumbered and cornered, pleaded with the mob, saying they were only trying to stop polluting vehicles but their words fell on deaf ears.

Reinforcements from the Ramjivanpur outpost, about 1km from the trouble spot, rushed to the area but seeing the policemen, the mob turned more violent.

Some people in the crowd allegedly hurled bombs at the cops and began chasing them towards the police outpost.

The police first did a lathicharge. In retaliation, the rapidly swelling mob set five police vehicles ablaze, including the car of Ghatal sub-divisional officer Asoke Saha who had gone there with the reinforcements.

More bombs came flying at the cops in reply to which the police lobbed tear-gas shells and fired rubber bullets.

The crowd still continued to swell — by 2pm the villagers numbered around 2,000 — and chase them.

According to the police’s account, the force fired eight rounds. One bullet hit college student Soumen De, killing him on the spot.

Soumen, who hailed from Hooghly’s Arambagh, took the bullet in the head while he was throwing stones at the police.

After the firing, the mob scattered.

“At least 15 policemen were injured, four of them seriously, because of the bricks and bombs thrown by the mob. Two of them suffered head injuries, another fractured his leg. The force fired as it was our last resort in self-defence when everything else failed,” said West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma.

SDO Saha also said the police opened fire in self-defence. “There could have been casualties had we not opened fire,” he said, adding that the mob was “violent right from the beginning”.

“The mob was only 200-strong at the beginning but swelled within hours. They chased our men towards the Ramjivanpur outpost and went on the rampage throwing bricks and bombs and setting ablaze our vehicles parked there one after another,” Saha said.

Basudeb Das, 50, a farmer who witnessed the violence, said: “The villagers who had set the killer truck ablaze would have dispersed had the police not brought in reinforcements. They got more aggressive when the police started the lathicharge.”

Fifteen people were arrested later in police raids.

Student rage

Over a hundred hotel management students went on the rampage in Durgapur this afternoon after a classmate died in a road accident.

Abhishek Roy, 22, a final-year student of hotel management at the NSHM Academy, was knocked down by a truck while he was coming to the institute on his bike. The truck hit him when he was taking a turn near the college in Arah, on the outskirts of the steel town.

College officials and police patrolling the area rushed him to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Students of the private institute blocked the Muchipara-Shibpur Road. They ransacked the truck and were about to set the vehicle on fire when policemen stopped them. The driver had fled.

The students also threw stones at the policemen, injuring three of them.

Durgapur circle inspector Sumit Chatterjee said: “We are going to start a case against the students on the charges of attacking policemen and ransacking the truck.”

The college authorities have declared a holiday on Monday to mourn the death of Abhishek.

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