Water crisis in Howrah that has been triggering clashes claimed its first victim on Tuesday, with a teenager being beaten to death following a row over who would fetch water from a civic bowser first.
Police said Rafique, Ruhul and Rabial Hussain Mollah — the three brothers accused of killing 18-year-old Sirajuddin Mullick — are absconding.
| Sirajuddin Mullick, who died in the clash over water; (right) Gopal Senapati’s picture of the assault spot
Several clashes were reported from Kazipara, Mollahpara and other parts of Howrah that have been reeling under water crisis for varying durations, stretching up to several months.
Tuesday’s fatal assault occurred around 4.10pm, when Sirajuddin’s sister Anisha Khatoon was waiting for her turn in a serpentine queue to collect water from the bowser.
“Rafique, Ruhul and Rabial were much behind her. But when Anisha’s turn came, the brothers forced her out of the queue so they could collect water first,” said a witness.
Sirajuddin saw this from a distance and rushed to the rescue of Anisha along with his elder brother, 21-year-old Nasiruddin.
“But the three brothers pinned Sirajuddin down and beat him up mercilessly. One of them brought a huge piece of stone and hit him on his head. The trio also assaulted Nasiruddin. They were so violent that none of us dared try to save Sirajuddin and Nasiruddin from their wrath,” said Khurshida Khatoon, who had witnessed the murderous attack.
The attackers fled possibly after realising that Sirajuddin had died.
Residents took him to a nursing home which refused to admit him. They then took him to SSKM Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Mollahpara residents have not been receiving piped water supplied by the Howrah Municipal Corporation for a month because of repair of the underground conduits. The only source is the civic bowser that visits the neighbourhood every evening.
Officials said the crisis in the other pockets — including Kajipara, Dayal Banerjee Road, Baishnabpara, Prasanna Dutta Lane, Tulsi Mitra Garden Lane, Gangamoni Road and Bhuban Mohini Road — was caused by insufficient pressure, resulting from flaws in the supply network.
Samir Saha, mayoral council member in charge of water supply, said: “Tuesday’s incident is unfortunate. We are unable to restore supply because of the delay in the pipe-laying work following protests by residents over the alignment of the conduits.”
Mayor Mamata Jaiswal was taken ill on June 14 after residents facing water crisis gharaoed her at office for more than six hours, demanding restoration of supply. She had to be admitted to hospital.
Mishap: A green police volunteer was injured on Monday night when a private car hit him on Jawaharlal Nehru Road near New Market. Police said Mahesh Ram, 24, was on duty on the road when the accident occurred. Ram was taken to hospital and the vehicle seized.