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Thrashed over ‘delay’, eatery owner dies

Belda, Dec. 25: Fifty government employees on their way to Digha for a picnic allegedly beat to death the owner of a roadside eatery because he said it would not be possible to serve so many people food quickly at 2am.

Sunil Kar died on the spot. His elder brother Swapan, the dhaba’s co-owner, was taken to Belda health centre with head injuries. He was shifted to SSKM this morning.

West Midnapore superintendent of police Sunil Chowdhury said 35 people were arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

According to the police, the group of 50, aged between 25 and 40 and mostly Group D employees in various offices in Midnapore, halted their bus at Hotel Paradise in Belda around 2am.

“We have learnt that several passengers had liquor bottles in their hands. They demanded that food be served quickly. The owners and the hotel staff were not sure if they would be able to serve food to 50 people at that time of the night. They requested for time to cook and this led to an argument and then a scuffle,” a senior police officer said in Belda, 70km from Midnapore town.

The dhaba owners’ nephew Amit Kar, who has a cigarette shop beside the eatery, said trouble started after one of the youths slapped a hotel employee when he requested for time to deliver his order.

“My uncles told the group that it was not possible for them to serve food so fast and requested them to go to any other dhaba. This led to an altercation and some of youths started beating up my uncles and the 12 employees. Some in the group went to the bus and came back with metal rods and sticks. They went on a rampage and broke all the tables and chairs,” he said.

A passing police vehicle sought reinforcement from Belda police station, 3km away, when they saw the ruckus.

“When the police force arrived, the bus had already left the dhaba. The police team chased the bus and intercepted it a kilometre away from the eatery. Thirty-five passengers, including the driver and the cleaner of the bus, were arrested. Some escaped as the stretch was foggy,” an officer at Belda police station said.