Anti-Encroachment Drive Turns Violent; Many Injured

Heavy land-moving equipment and police jeeps torched by protesters in Patna on Tuesday.

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Patna: The state was in the grip of a major violence on Tuesday as thousands of people under Digha police station attacked a police team that had gone there, at the order of the Patna High Court, to remove illegal construction from the land owned by the Housing Board.

Patna: The state was in the grip of a major violence on Tuesday as thousands of people under Digha police station attacked a police team that had gone there, at the order of the Patna High Court, to remove illegal construction from the land owned by the Housing Board.

Afraid to go on offense on the protestors, the cops proved no match to the mob that thrashed Digha Police Station in-charge R K Dubey requiring him to seek serious medical attention even as the City Superintendent of Police (Central) D Amarkesh and other police officials fled from the scene to avoid by mauled by the crowd.

Police fired over 50 rounds in the air but that proved to be futile in quelling the mob rage.

With Digha-Ashiana Road turning into a literal battle zone, the crowd torched two earth-movers and three police jeeps as senior police officials just watched from a distance not knowing how to deal with the angry mob.

As reported, the situation got out of hand shortly after the demolition team arrived in Rajiv Nagar and Krishna Nagar around 5:00 am to remove encroachment on the property owned by the state Housing Department.

Thousands of people began pelting stones at the police officials injuring more than two dozen of them. Digha police station in-charge Dubey who was trying to control the mob was hit by a large brick causing a crack in his head. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was being treated for fracture in his skull. The bodyguard of SP was said to have received bullet injuries who was taken to the Gardener Road Hospital for treatment.

The mob also torched two JCB machines and three police jeeps on the spot.

A number of media reporters who were on the site to cover the riot were also hurt in the riot.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manu Maharaj and District Magistrate Sanjay Agrawal strongly condemned today's incident saying the land mafia in Patna was behind the assault on policemen who were only doing their job as directed by the High Court.

"They (land mafia) used women and children as human shields as a result of which police could not resort to tougher measures to deal with the rioters. We will be combing through all the surveillance videos from the area to identify the criminals so we can take appropriate action against them," Maharaj said.

Though the situation currently seems to be under control, senior police officials are camping in the area to monitor any suspicious activity.

Meanwhile, protestors said that they had purchased the land from the farmers who were the original owners of the land. In the '70s, the government had acquired 1024 acre of land from the farmers with the intention to give the land to the state Housing Board but according to the protestors, it failed to make payments to the farmers.

Over the years, the farmers sold the same land to other buyers who built houses and apartment complexes on these lands that the government is now trying to demolish in the name of illegal construction.

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