Around 20 police personnel, including at least one senior officer, were injured in West Bengal's West Burdwan district on Tuesday when hundreds of villagers attacked them twice at Churulia, the native village of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, demanding the removal of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) quarantine centre set up at a youth hostel in the hamlet two days ago.
Tension started brewing in Churulia since Sunday after the police shifted some suspected Covid-19 patients to the youth hostel, the villagers said. The villagers demanded that the quarantine centre be shifted either to an abandoned school building in the adjoining Madantore village or to the primary health centre outside Churulia. Reports - Hindustan Times
The villagers also claimed that relatives of an Unani medicine practitioner (71), who died of Covid-19 in Asansol on April 10, were the first to be housed at the quarantine centre before they were shifted to a local hospital on Monday (yesterday) night.
However, HT has accessed the pathological reports from the hospital in Kolkata, where the swab samples were sent for the test. The report stated that he had tested Covid-19 positive on April 9, the day before he died. The state government also did not confirm on April 9 that he had tested Covid-19 positive.
District authorities have not confirmed the eyewitnesses' claims that shots were fired in the air by the police to disperse the mob, during the second of the two attacks by the villagers on the cops.
The angry villagers also ransacked the homes of some local Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, who had given consent to the district administration for using the youth hostel, located less than 100 metres away from the grave of Kazi Nazrul's wife.
"Our family members had to hide in a garden when the mob broke into the house. They smashed valuable items," said a relative of Ghalib Siddiqui, a local TMC leader, on condition of anonymity. The home of another local TMC leader, Sheikh Asraf, was also allegedly ransacked.
Subrata Ghosh, the officer in charge of the local Jamuria police station, has been admitted to a hospital in Ranigunj with a fractured leg, along with a few other injured policemen. Reinforcements were sent from five police stations in the district along with a huge contingent of Rapid Action Force (RSF) personnel, a senior district police officer said on condition of anonymity. "The police force is stationed at Churulia to prevent the tension from spreading to adjoining villages," the officer added.
"The situation is under control, according to the latest reports," Jitendra Tiwari, mayor of the TMC-controlled Asansol Municipal Corporation, said on Tuesday afternoon, adding that he would make enquiries about the damages caused to the local party leaders' homes.
This is not the first time that people in Bengal have objected to setting up of Covid-19 quarantine centres near their homes, although no violence of this scale has been reported to date.
Earlier, objections were raised in Purulia, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts over the past few days.