The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Criminal lynched for bicycle theft attempt

A 50-strong mob on Sunday lynched 21-year-old Kartik Mondol, alias Benji, a criminal who struck terror in his neighbourhood in Behala, the police and his rival gang. The mob beat him up on the excuse that he had tried to snatch a bicycle.

Two arrests were made, but even after death, his family has disowned him.

It started around 6 am in the morning when a local resident, Bishnu Dutta, complained to the police that while he was returning home from SSKM Hospital after attending to his ailing mother, a man, whom he identified as Benji, tried to snatch his bicycle and money from him.

After managing to escape, he reported the matter to his neighbours before complaining to the police. The neighbours, along with some members of Benji’s rival gang, found the perfect excuse for hunting him down. The search ended at Benji’s house, in the Charu Market area, around 8 am.

On noticing a 50-strong mob baying for his blood, Benji tried to slip through a rear entrance. But he was caught. The mob dragged him to an abandoned factory on Rai Bahadur Road. They tied him to a post and started beating him up.

After an hour of battering, the mob, convinced that Benji was dead, left him behind and escaped. After some time, a young man of the locality noticed Benji’s blood-spattered body and called up Sahapur police station.

The police detected a feeble pulse beat in Benji. When they took him to the M.R. Bangur hospital, the doctors declared that he had died around 10.30 am.

Even hours after his death, several local residents were cursing Benji. A man who lives in the neighbourhood said Benji was not only a criminal, he was also a drug addict, and that he did deserve to die.

Deputy superintendent of police (town) Subhankar Chattopadhyay said Benji had earlier been arrested in connection with at least half a dozen cases.

After obtaining bail, he went to Puri, where he stayed for a couple of months before returning to his neighbourhood to indulge in criminal activities once again. “Both Calcutta Police and South 24-Parganas Police had several complaints lodged against him,” said Chattopadhyay.

“His elder brother and other family members are decent folk. They were not surprised that Benji was killed. They had given him up for bad,” he added.

Follow-up investigation by the police came to a halt as no one came forward to lodge an FIR — not even Benji’s relatives. Finally, a local resident submitted a complaint and named several people in the mob.

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