Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Food Movement spreads all over South Bengal

[This report has been copied from website]

Food Riots Continue In South Bengal

October 7, 2007

A ration dealer’s house and the office of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were set ablaze in Burdwan district of West Bengal Sunday in the continuing protests against alleged corruption in the public distribution system (PDS) and food grain hoarding that have claimed four lives.

A group of people set on fire the house of ration shopkeeper Golam Mohammed at Nawabhat in Burdwan district, about 250 km
northwest of Kolkata, and as the mob left the area it torched the CPI-M office in the vicinity.

The group clashed with police and some CPI-M supporters alleging that the ration dealers were hoarding food grains.

Burdwan superintendent of police Piyush Pande told IANS that about 25 people, including Pradip Das, the CPI-M MLA from the area, were injured during the arson and subsequent police action.

‘The situation is now under control. We have arrested eight people,’ Pande said.

Police said Mohammed was attacked after he failed to pay up money demanded by the group. His storehouse was also set on fire. There was tension in some other areas of the district like Golshi, Itaru and Shashankha.

Murshidabad district also witnessed ration riots in some areas Sunday.

Burdwan had witnessed similar attacks on Saturday as well along with Bankura and Birbhum districts.

A ration dealer from Bankura Saturday hanged himself as he could not afford to pay the Rs.400,000 fine slapped on him by a kangaroo court.

Biman Kundu, 32, was found hanging from the ceiling at his home in Borokumira village, 230 km from Kolkata.

This was the second suicide in the district since protests against alleged corruption in the food distribution system began. A ration dealer from Raipur had killed himself on Sep 28.

The kangaroo court, called by villagers, had charged Kundu with selling wheat and rice in the black market and was asked to pay up.

The villagers have been attacking the houses of the ration dealers, their stores and looting property and food grains before torching them.

‘The ration corruption allegations should be probed by the state agencies immediately. We have to activate the anti-corruption wings of our state instead of always screaming for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry,’ said state PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami.

Earlier two protesters were killed in the police firing.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has appealed to people for peace. He asked people not to take law into their own hands and said the government had requested the centre to increase rice, wheat and kerosene supplies.

Food Supplies Minister Paresh Adhikary said a show-cause notice had been issued to Bijendra Nath Malakar, the Birbhum district controller of food, and action would be taken against Madan Mohan Mandal, the Bankura district controller of food, who has recently retired.

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