Aug 31, 2010 - MEMARI, BURDWAN: Ration riots returned to Bengal after three years on Monday. Villagers of Kolemollickapur, Memari, torched the house of ration dealer Swapan Mondal, wrecked the panchayat office, gheraoed nine food corporation officials and fought pitched battles with police for seven hours demanding the arrest of ‘corrupt’ ration dealers.
The villagers attacked policemen with arrows, spears, stones and bricks. It took waves of lathi-charges and tear-gas shelling by the RAF to break up the attack. The situation is still tense. Tuesday could see more violence, fear locals. In 2007, ration riots had scorched six districts in Bengal.
Burdwan is in the grip of a severe drought and has already seen two farmer suicides due to starvation and debt.
A week ago villagers met the BDO and informed him that they were not getting rations. « On Friday, when officials visited the village, the locals demanded that the dealer’s licence be suspended. The team said they would have to see the documents but they were not allowed to. A mob of 300 gheraoed them until they were freed by police, » said Burdwan DM Onkar Singh Meena.
« People of four villages have not been getting ration on BPL and APL cards since the first week of August. Police promised to bring the FCI officials only when we gheraoed the road last week. When they came, villagers locked them in a school demanding the arrest of the ration dealer, » said Binod Mondal, a local.
Villagers are still blocking the Memari-Maldanga Road demanding the arrest of a ration dealer. Police have arrested six persons for Monday’s violence.