A day after thousands of villagers in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district came out armed with lathis and bricks to protest against the construction of a power grid project in the area, one man was shot dead and another received a bullet injury in his arm after the confrontation between villagers and the police turned violent.
A number of policemen also sustained injuries during the clash in the district's Bhangar-II block, according to media reports.
Following the violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured the villagers that no land would be acquired without their consent.
"No land will be acquired if people don't want to give away land. Proposed power grid will be relocated if required," the chief minister said, according to the Economic Times.
In an earlier report, HuffPost India's Swati Sengupta had pointed out the similarities between the Bhangar agitation and the events of November 2008 at Lalgarh and 2007 at Nandigram, which had transformed into a massive movement against the state.
"In both these movements, local people had dug up roads and placed tree trunks on the road to prevent police from entering the area. In both Lalgarh and Nandigram, Naxalites had played an important role, and in Bhangar too, the CPI (ML) Red Star, a relatively less known Naxalite outfit, is said to have been involved."
South 24 Parganas has been on the boil since last week over the alleged 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).
According to agitators, the local police is 'terrorising' villagers and breaking into their houses in the darkness of the night.
"The RAF and police are beating us mercilessly... Even the women and children are not being spared. We will not tolerate this," a resident of Machhi Bhanga village told IANS.
The anti-acquisition agitators have demanded that the West Bengal Power Minister Sovandeb Chatterjee should come to Bhangar and announce the cancellation of the project.
"The government is saying the plan to build a power grid in our village has been dropped, but then why is the construction work still on? The Power Minister has to come here and announce cancellation," an agitator said.
(With inputs from IANS)
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