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Ration fine turns death noose

Oct. 6: A ration dealer from Bankura today hanged himself as he could not afford to pay the Rs 4 lakh fine slapped on him by a kangaroo court.

Biman Kundu, 32, was found hanging from the ceiling at his home in Borokumira village, 230 km from Calcutta, this morning.

This was the second suicide in the district since protests against alleged corruption in the food distribution system began. A ration dealer from Raipur had killed himself on September 28.

A kangaroo court, called by villagers last night, charged Kundu with selling wheat and rice in the black market. He was asked to pay Rs 4 lakh to the villagers after he “confessed” to his “crime”.

Biman’s family alleged the villagers had beaten up the dealer. “When by brother requested the villagers with folded hands that he could not afford to pay the amount, they thrashed him. He was released only after he gave a declaration that he would pay up,” said his younger brother Bipul.

According to a complaint lodged with police, some drunk villagers had came to Biman’s house at 10 last night to tell him they would collect the amount this morning. Before leaving, they allegedly made lewd remarks the dealer’s wife.

“My brother looked very depressed after being humiliated by the villagers. He locked himself in a room and didn’t have his dinner. He called my nieces, Munni, 8, and Mamoni, 5, later and kissed them to say that their father had not cheated anybody,” Bipul said.

The family broke open the door and found him hanging at 7 this morning. A suicide note was found near his bed in which he blamed eight villagers for his death.

The police have started a probe.

The agitation against ration dealers today spilled to Nadia and Murshidabad.

Villagers set fire to five barrels of kerosene outside Kalipada Sarkar’s shop at Batkulla in Nadia. Police said the villagers dragged the ration dealer out and beat him up till he fell unconscious.

In Murshidabad, about 200 villagers attacked the house of ration dealer Sabira Begum around 9am. Begum’s aides retaliated and a clash ensued. Bombs were hurled from both sides. In the melee, the villagers set a cowshed adjoining Begum’s house on fire.

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