AROUND 2.45 PM on Wednesday, a car with unidentified men arrived at the Trinamool Congress office in Kharagpur. They allegedly opened fire and hurled bombs, killing two ruling party supporters, including the husband of the local councillor. The catch: No one saw anything.
It has been over 24 hours since councillor A Pooja Rao’s husband A Srinivasan Naidu alias Srinu Rao (27) and his aide Dharma Rao (25) were gunned down and three others shot at. While no arrests have yet been made in the case, heavy police force has been deployed in the area.
A police officer said: “This seems to be a case of gang rivalry. We are investigating.”
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The Trinamool office at New Settlement area, which is surrounded by encroached Railways land, is home to around 900 people. It is at a distance of around a kilometre from the Giri Maidan railway station. While shops around are usually shut in the afternoon, the road from the station to the party office is a busy one. “It is strange that when the incident took place, no one saw anything,” said a relative of Srinu.
On Wednesday morning, Srinu had returned from Kolkata after four days. He went to the party office where he met his aides B Govinda Rao and N Govinda Rao. Around 2.45 pm, Dharma Rao reached the office. As he was about to enter, a car suddenly stopped in front of the office gate. While the passengers started hurling bombs, Dharma Rao was shot in the head and stomach. Before others inside the one-storey office could react, miscreants opened fire on them.
“We heard sounds of explosions and firing but before anyone could reach the spot, the accused had left,” said Sri Laxmi, mother of one of the injured, Sri Srinu.
“While Dharma was lying dead at the gate, B Govinda and N Govinda were found sitting on chairs with bullet injuries. Srinu was shot in the head and the lower neck. Sri Srinu had received a bullet on his left leg,” a Trinamool supporter said.
The five were taken to Kharagpur Sub-Divisional Hospital, from where they were referred to West Midnapore. Later, Dharma and Srinu were taken to Apollo Hospital in Kolkata, where they were declared brought dead on arrival. The bodies have been be sent for postmortem examination.
Accusing state BJP chief and Kharagpur MLA Dilip Ghosh of being behind the incident, Kharagpur Municipality Chairman Pradip Sarkar said: “The Kharagpur MLA is flexing his muscles. He had threatened Srinu on several occasions because he had left BJP to join Trinamool. I don’t want to blame anyone but this could be a possibility and police must investigate this angle.”
Meanwhile, a case has been lodged following a complaint filed by V Meena Kumar, Srinu’s mother-in-law, in Kharagpur Town police station.
Sources said while Pooja had won the municipal election on a BJP ticket, she later switched over to the Trinamool. “Srinu was a local strongman… he was a headache for the party. He was too powerful… He was also not loyal since he left BJP for Trinamool. The party was angry after the BJP won Kharagpur Assembly seat…,” said a Trinamool worker.