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Murders before governor visit

Jamshedpur, April 9: In a clear index of lax security in West Singhbhum, a trade union leader and a gram sevak were shot dead in two separate incidents in Chaibasa, hours before the governor’s scheduled visit to the district headquarters on Monday.

While Gokul Gope (52), also an active member of Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), was attacked by unknown assailants on Chaibasa-Jhinkpani Road around 6.45am, gram sevak Mangal Singh Kerai (40) was killed, again by unidentified men, on Chaibasa-Chakradharpur Road an hour and a half later.

Governor Syed Ahmed attended a function at Kolhan University, barely 10km from both the murder sites, at 11am.

According to police, who have lodged an FIR on the basis of a statement given by Gope’s nephew and murder eyewitness Monu, the trade union leader went to shine his shoes at the local market and was returning home near Jodapokhar Chowk when he was attacked.

Gope was walking towards home with Monu when two men on a bike hurled a countrymade bomb at him near the ACC plant gate on Chaibasa-Jhinkpani Road. As the middle-aged man sprawled on the street under the impact, one of the assailants approached him and shot him from point-blank range. The duo then fled the scene.

Acquaintances said Gope was the president of ACC Mazdoor Sangh, which is affiliated to Intuc. They revealed that he too had a dubious background and several criminal cases were pending against him in Chaibasa civil court.

In the other incident, a bullet-riddled Kerai — a resident of Chakradharpur — was found at Mojodimba village on Chaibasa-Chakradharpur Road, 5km from the varsity campus, around 8.30am. Police reached the spot half an hour later and rushed him to Chaibasa sadar hospital, but the gram sevak was declared brought dead.

According to sources, Kerai was on his way to Chaibasa when someone hitched a ride on his bike, 2km from the murder spot. The unsuspecting and perhaps preoccupied gram sevak failed to notice that another man was following him on a bike.

As Kerai and his pillion-rider reached Mojodimba, the latter asked him to stop, got off the two-wheeler and opened fire. The gram sevak took three bullets and slumped on the ground. His killer hopped onto the pillion seat of the bike that was following them and disappeared from the scene.

West Singhbhum SP Arun Kumar Singh confirmed the twin murders. “We are investigating the cases. The assailants will be brought to book,” he said.

Singh said they suspected that Gope, who had political affiliation, was a victim of rivalry with some criminal gang. He, however, could not throw light on the motive behind the gram sevak’s killing.

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