Krishnaganj MLA Satyajit Biswas was killed by a man who lived close to the Trinamool Congress leader’s home, and is a local hoodlum and BJP worker, witnesses and members of Biswas’s family alleged on Sunday.
The alleged assailant, Abhijit Pundari, is absconding. Police have arrested two other accused, and recovered a countrymade handgun from a field not far from where Biswas was killed. The two men who were arrested for MLA’s murder, TMC alleges Mukul Roy hand Sunday, Kartik Mondal and Sujit Mondal, are said to have links with the BJP.
Police have also received a complaint against Mukul Roy, BJP executive committee member and in-charge of the party’s Lok Sabha election committee for West Bengal. But senior police officers declined to confirm whether Roy had been named in the FIR along with Pundari and the two other men.
Roy denied involvement in the MLA’s murder, and told reporters that he had sent a legal notice to the Trinamool for making the allegation. The BJP has, on its part, alleged that TMC infighting led to the killing, and demanded an investigation by the CBI.
Biswas, 35, who was also president of the Trinamool youth wing in Nadia district, was shot at close range soon after he had inaugurated a cultural programme at a Saraswati puja near his home in Phulbari, a semi-urban locality a little over 10 km from Krishnanagar town (and about 120 km north of Kolkata) on Saturday night.
The killer is said to have stood behind the MLA for some time before firing a one-shot handgun at him in the presence of nearly 100 people at the local football ground.
“Everyone saw Abhijit standing behind Satyajit as he sat in front of the stage and spoke with local people after inaugurating the cultural programme along with several district TMC leaders. Abhijit took out a handgun and shot Satyajit at point blank range,” Prakash Haldar, Biswas’s uncle-in-law who lives elsewhere in the district, told The Indian Express.
After the killing, groups of local people ransacked Pundari’s home in the Majidpur locality, a 10-minute walk from the MLA’s home in Phulbari.
“Abhijit used to be with the TMC once, but he had switched to the BJP a few years ago. He is a known miscreant. During Kali Puja last year, he and his cronies harassed a panchayat pradhan in Majidpur, and Satyajit intervened. We think that he continued to nurse a grudge against Satyajit,” Anupam Biswas, the MLA’s brother-in-law, said.
Ratan Biswas, a local resident who claimed to have witnessed the murder, said: “We were all there and saw what happened. We were stunned. Some people tried to catch him, but he had a handgun, and managed to run away.”
Sitting with her 17-month-old boy Soumyajit in one of the rooms of their home, Biswas’s distraught wife Rupali said, “We want justice. Those who killed my husband should be hanged.”
The state government has ordered the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to take up the case. The IG, CID, Ajay Kumar, visited the scene of the crime on Saturday night.
Biswas’s bodyguard Prabhas Mondal and the officer-in-charge of Hanskhali police station (under whose jurisdiction Phulbari lies) Anindya Basu, have been suspended. Mondal was not with the MLA on Saturday, but wasn’t officially on leave.
“The MLA’s security guard and the OC of Hanskhali police station have been suspended for negligence in duty. The probe is on and we are looking for others who might have been involved with this murder,” Niraj Kumar Singh, IG, South Bengal, said.
Nadia SP Rupesh Kumar said: “We have arrested two people. This is all that I can say at this moment.”
Local people and Trinamool workers alleged that the two arrested men, Kartik Mondal and Sujit Mondal, used to be with the TMC, but had switched allegiance to the BJP seven-eight months ago. The two men were produced in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ranaghat, and remanded in 14 days’ police custody.
TMC secretary general and the state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said: “The BJP has stooped too low. The people will give a befitting reply to the perpetrators of this dastardly act. Those who have killed Satyajit will not be spared.”
Chatterjee visited the family’s home in Phulbari, where thousands of people, both TMC workers and leaders, and area residents, gathered as the body was taken in a procession for the last rites.
District Trinamool Congress president Gouri Dutta accused Mukul Roy, the former TMC leader who went over to the BJP in November 2017, of Biswas’s murder. “The BJP has been trying to stoke tensions and spread unrest in the area for quite some time. Mukul Roy is behind the incident. A complaint has been filed against him,” he said.
Dutta had been present at Saturday’s programme along with Biswas, and had left the venue only minutes before the MLA was shot dead.
Roy, who was the second most powerful leader in the TMC before falling out with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, rejected the allegations. “The way the state government is trying to link me to various crimes in every possible way, makes it evident that the TMC is scared of me,” he said.
“The allegation is completely baseless. We are being victimised by the TMC. I have also sent a legal notice to Gouri Shankar Dutta for accusing me for the incident. The truth must prevail and I am ready to face an impartial probe,” Roy said in Kolkata.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: “We demand a CBI probe into the incident. On the one hand BJP workers are murdered, and on the other TMC workers are killed in their own party’s infighting and false cases are slapped on BJP workers. There is nothing called law and order in the state.”
Jagannath Sarkar, president of the BJP’s Nadia South organisational district, said: “The police are arresting our men, whereas the real reason behind the MLA’s tragic death is infighting within the TMC. The assailant is a known Trinamool Congress man.”
Biswas was also in charge of the party’s organisation for the Scheduled Caste refugee Matua community, who constitute a sizeable chunk of the district’s population. Both the BJP and TMC are vying for this votebank. Biswas won the bypoll for the Krishnaganj seat in 2015 after the sitting MLA died, and then won again in the 2016 elections.
This is the first time an MLA has been murdered since Banerjee became chief minister in 2011. In December 2018, the vehicle of Biswanath Das, the Trinamool MLA from Jaynagar in South 24-Parganas district, was attacked with bombs and firearms. The MLA was not in the vehicle, but his driver and two other aides were killed.