| PDS leader Samir Putatunda (in kurta) at the Deb residence on Sunday morning. Picture by Amit Datta
A small-time realtor and brother-in-law of Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS) supremo Samir Putatunda was found murdered in a dumping ground in Baguiati early on Sunday.
Pranab Deb, 55, known as Shantuda in his locality, left his Manimala Apartments residence on Shyamnagar Road around 5 pm on Saturday for a soiree a few yards away, organised by a body of local businessmen.
Deb was the elder brother of Anuradha Deb, CPM's former MLA from Mograhat, South 24-Parganas.
'I saw him listening to the music till 9 pm. He then chatted with the organisers. However, I couldn't spot him anywhere while heading home,' said neighbour Barun Biswas.
Sanjib Banerjee, a local newspaper vendor, said: 'I heard about the incident around 6 am. One of my colleagues, who was cycling down the lane adjacent to the dumping ground, was the person to spot the body first. He came and told me about it. I rushed to the spot, only to find it was Shantuda's body in a heap of garbage, in his innerwear and with bruise marks all over.'
Police said the attack had left the victim's legs broken, lungs burst and a kidney damaged. The spot where the body was found is around 500 m from the victim's residence.
Deb's wife Kabita, an employee of the defence accounts office, had tried calling him on his cell phone around 9 pm.
'But the phone was switched off. Perhaps, by then, he was already in the clutches of the assassins,' Putatunda said after a visit to Deb's house.
Though police are yet to ascertain the motive behind the murder, Putatunda said he believed that local criminals had a hand in the killing.
'Deb had recently started raising his voice against the antisocial activities in the area. He had to pay with his life for it,' Putatunda said, adding: 'As of now, I don't want to comment if there is any political link in the incident.'
Praveen Kumar, superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas), said: 'We are probing two angles ' Deb's source of earning and his recent activities in the locality. A few leads and names have emerged. We hope to crack the case soon.'
The medical examination revealed that Deb was assaulted with blunt weapons by a group of people. 'He was hit with great force in the chest and abdomen. His left hand was also broken,' said an officer investigating the case.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that Deb had recently started a real estate business in the locality.
'Along with a few others, he had constructed a multi-storeyed building in the area. We are trying to find out if he had developed a rivalry with the local criminals,' said an officer of Baguiati investigation centre.
Elaborating on the modus operandi of the killers, superintendent of police Kumar said: 'It appears that the killers were not professional. A thorough examination of the body has revealed that Deb was not in a state to ward off his attackers.'