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Pay the price for cop tip-off

The first to go was Babu, murdered in Shibpur. Next it was Subir Majhi, shot dead in cold blood early on Wednesday, close to where his friend was slain.

There is a common thread running between the two murders. Five years ago, Subir and Babu had helped the police with information that led to the arrest of a few hardened criminals. The police believe both were killed for providing vital information that led to the arrests.

Nakul Majhi, father of 30-year-old Subir, said the family had just finished watching a film on television and was preparing to retire for the night when there was a knock on the door of their modest, single-storeyed house in Thakur Ramakrishna Lane.

“Subir answered the door. He found five young men outside,” Nakul said. “The moment he stepped out, two of them fired at Subir from point-blank range,” Nakul recounted.

Subir’s mother, Lakshmi, and brother Subhendu — both witnesses to the incident — rushed to Subir as he slumped to the floor. The assailants fled in the darkness. “We took him to Howrah General Hospital, where doctors declared him dead,’’ Nakul said.

Howrah’s superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar, quoting preliminary findings, said there were no criminal charges against Subir, who was employed in a local factory. Neighbours said Subir was a “nice and helpful’’ person and was on cordial terms with them.

Additional superintendent of police Rajiv Mishra said Subir and his friend, Babu, were summoned to Batra police station five years ago to help the cops trace some criminals. “The records have it that both men had passed on vital information, leading to the arrest of the criminals. They had also testified against the criminals in Batra police station,’’ Mishra said. Nakul, too, said his son had helped Batra police arrest the goons.

Police, during the course of investigations on Wednesday, got the names of the criminals arrested in Batra five years ago. “This is the only clue at the moment. With no other possible motive for the murders, investigators have zeroed in on the theory of revenge killing,’’ said inspector-general of police, south Bengal, N.R. Das.

But the police face another problem. Tracing records, especially files that are five years old, is a difficult job in a police station. After a daylong search, they could not locate the files that had the details of Subir and Babu helping them with the arrest of the criminals. This is essential to corroborate the revenge-killing theory, officials said. “We hope to locate the files in the next few days,’’ Mishra said.

Rajesh Kumar said officers were checking the list of criminals operating in the area five years ago. “We are trying to trace their whereabouts,’’ he added.

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