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CIMA Gallary

Extortion assault on trader, wife

A real estate contractor and his wife were assaulted at their central Howrah home on Sunday night after he refused to pay Rs 5 lakh demanded by a local gang.

Shahzada Khan said five armed youths had stormed his house but he lodged an FIR only against three he could identify — Randhir Singh, Mohammed Ali and Rabi.

Allegations of extortion from businessmen in Howrah have been on the rise for the past few months but they are seldom reported to police. It was the attack that had prompted Khan to lodge a complaint.

The gang turned up at Khan’s Sandhya Bazar house, near Howrah Maidan, around 11.30pm. “All of them were armed with sticks and daggers. They were abusing me and asking me why I hadn’t paid up. When my wife (Nagma Parveen) and one of my relatives rushed out, they beat us up,” said Khan.

“They had been pressuring me to pay the money since November. They threatened they would not let me run my business if I did not pay up.”

Khan said Sunday night’s incident could have been averted had the police acted on the extortion complaint he had lodged in November. “My complaint was treated as a general diary,” said Khan.

The contractor went to the house of the local Trinamul MLA, agricultural marketing minister Arup Roy, before going to the police.

Roy told Metro on Monday evening: “The police should take strong action.”

Till late on Monday, however, none of the three named in the FIR had been arrested.

The threats for the money started with frequent calls to Khan’s cellphone in early November. When Khan refused to give in, the gang started demanding the money in public. “Once they stopped my bike when I was returning home and threatened me with dire consequences if I did not pay up,” Khan wrote in the FIR lodged with Howrah police station on Monday afternoon.

“Such extortion rackets cannot thrive without the help of the police and political leaders,” alleged a businessman in central Howrah.

“There are several complaints of extortion against the three named in the FIR. They are absconding. We are trying to arrest them,” said an officer of Howrah police station.