In a scene straight out of a Bollywood gangster film, a band of 20 armed goons took over the railway platform at Hridaypur for a few frenzied moments late on Sunday. The gang invaded the station north of Dum Dum, prevented commuters from getting off a train by firing in the air, struck a few passengers with revolver butts, herded those waiting to board a train at gunpoint into one corner, thrashed a local trader, and then, coolly walked away.
The target of the attack, trader Sisir Das, is fighting for life at a Baguiati nursing home. Five passengers trying to get off at Hridaypur in the midst of the siege were injured when the goons hit them with revolver butts.
Police said the incident was a fallout of a rivalry between local real-estate dealers. “Das had recently launched a property-related business, which may have triggered the attack,” said a Barasat police station official. The ‘operation’ was carried out with a Sunday crowd thronging the station and its adjacent market. “Hundreds of passengers were on the platform. A group of 20, brandishing revolvers and daggers, marched down the platform and stormed Das’ shop, close to the booking counter,” said witness Suman Bhattacharya.
The goons dragged Das out of his shop to the platform staircase. Some of them started beating him up, while others took up position on the platform. No commuter came to Das’ rescue. “At least eight youths were hitting Das with revolver butts. When he fell, they started kicking him,” said Uttam Chakraborty, another witness. “One of them hit Das on the head with a brick.”
A Sealdah-bound train pulled into the platform and the gangsters warned passengers not to get off. When some didn’t pay heed, the goons started firing in the air and beating them up. Once the train left, the miscreants walked off, firing twice in the air to ensure they weren’t tailed. Members of the Hridaypur market committee later identified the gang as local residents.