Malda, Aug. 25: A 42-year-old Trinamul Congress leader was shot dead by a close associate in his house at the centre of the town this afternoon.
Bapi Roy Chowdhury, allegedly shot by Babu Pandey through his heart at point blank range, died at Malda Sadar Hospital minutes after he was taken there.
Trinamul supporters roughed up the doctors, including hospital superintendent Maniklal Das, accusing them of negligence. They also ransacked the hospital.
The motive for the killing is not clear, but professional rivalry is not ruled out. Police said Roy Chowdhury and Pandey were contractors and close friends. Roy Chowdhury was a member of Trinamul’s district committee.
The murder took place around 2.45 pm when the friends were closeted in a room in Roy Chowdhury’s house.
The body was handed over to his relatives after post-mortem tonight for cremation. Pandey could not be traced.
Jayashree, Roy Chowdhury’s wife, said Pandey had come to their house as usual. They were in a room together, chatting.
Suddenly, she heard an altercation. “I went in only to see Pandey shooting my husband within a pipegun at point blank range.”
The bullet hit him in the chest and the leader collapsed in a heap.
Pandey had come to see Roy Chowdhury earlier in the day as well. “He had cracked jokes before he left around noon. I had never thought he would come back again to kill my husband,’’ Jayashree said.
The police version corroborated that of the family members’. Anil Roy, officer-in-charge of Englishbazar police station, said Roy Chowdhury had named Pandey as the “murderer” in his dying statement.
Tulu Chatterjee, Roy Chowdhury’s cousin, called on the police to arrest Pandey on charges of murder. “Hearing the gunshot, I went in only to find Bapida lying in a pool of blood. Pandey, brandishing a pipe-gun, was standing there.”
Trinamul supporters, who went on a rampage, said no doctors were available when Roy Chowdhury was taken to the hospital in a critical condition. “Even the blood bank was closed. Our party workers were prepared to donate blood, but the staff refused to open the blood bank,” Englishbazar Municipality chairman and senior Trinamul leader Krishnendu Chowdhury said. He demanded a magisterial inquiry into the killing.
The hospital superintendent said very few doctors were on duty because it was Sunday. “In any case, there was no way we could have saved him because the bullet had made a gaping hole in his heart.”
Das said the leader was brought to the hospital in a critical condition around 3.25 pm and he died of his injuries half an hour later.
Police said they were investigating the relationship between Roy Chowdhury and Pandey. They suspect a “financial deal’’ could be the motive.
Police launched a hunt for Pandey, who seems to have fled the area. They also raided Pandey’s residence, but to no avail.