‘Reformed’ gangster Pratap Koley, 40, alias Apple, was shot dead by rivals at Baguiati, in east Calcutta, on Thursday morning.
Sources said Koley was once considered a ‘terror’ of Howrah, but had shifted base to Baguiati and was supplying building materials to promoters in the area. Additional superintendent of police, Ajay Nand, said Koley was leading a peaceful life in Baguiati with his wife, two sons and daughter, and neighbours had no complaints against him.
Witnesses said Koley was out on his morning walk at 5.15 am, when four youths, who were following him at a distance, hurled bombs at him. “Even though Koley was badly injured, he started running. The goons ran after him and started firing from their revolvers. When Koley collapsed on the ground, the youths pumped more bullets into him to make sure he was dead. The group then escaped in a waiting car,’’ said a witness, on condition of anonymity.
Howrah superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said there were more than a dozen cases of extortion and murder registered in Koley’s name. “He had been arrested earlier but was out on bail. He had, however, left behind his past in Howrah and was leading a peaceful life in Baguiati. Obviously, his rivals had other ideas,’’ Kumar said.
Investigations revealed that the killers had been stalking Koley for the past few days. “Actually, Koley had several enemies in Howrah. He knew that some of them were on his trail, which is why he always moved around with an aide,’’ an officer said. “Even on a morning walk, he would go out in a group. On Thursday, however, he decided to take a detour and go around a football field. That proved to be his doom,’’ Nand said.
There are also reports that Koley had recently fallen out with some Howrah-based promoters. “We have information that some promoters had approached him to settle a dispute with a rival. We suspect that Koley got involved in the issue and had even gone to Howrah late on Wednesday, to broker a truce,’’ a senior officer said. “It could be that the rival promoters hired some goons to kill him,’’ he added.
Nand said a case has been registered at the Baguiati police outpost. “We are coordinating with the Howrah police to track down the killers,’’ he said. Koley’s body has been sent for post-mortem.