A file picture of Mandar Bazaar along NH-75, 27km from capital Ranchi, where the shooting took place on Sunday
A contractor was shot four times in the head at a busy marketplace, a stone’s throw from the local police station and 27km from capital Ranchi, on Sunday afternoon.
While 35-year-old Mohammed Noor died on the spot, a villager — identified as Kari Mansoor Ansari (30) — who was hit during the indiscriminate firing succumbed to a bullet wound in the stomach on his way to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). Business rivalry is being suspected as the trigger behind the fatal attack.
According to local residents and police, the incident took place between 2.45pm and 3pm at Mandar Bazaar, which is barely 6km from the Central University of Jharkhand. The vegetable market for wholesalers is located along NH-75, which connects Ranchi with Daltonganj.
Noor, who had taken the contract of collecting revenue from the market last year, was on the job when he had an altercation with a group of five men who had walked up to him from outside the market.
“One of them suddenly took out a gun and began shooting. We all ran for cover. The contractor, who had been collecting revenue from vendors until a while ago, took four bullets in the head and died right there,” said an eyewitness.
Ansari, who had come to the market perhaps to replenish his stocks, was hit in the stomach. “He had taken one bullet, but did not make it to hospital,” the resident said.
SP (rural) Asim Vikrant Minz confirmed the double murder, but could not detail on the motive. “The firing took place around 3pm. Detailed information in the matter is awaited. A team has been rushed to the spot for investigations,” he said.
Sources in the police admitted that none of the five had been identified, let alone arrested. “They ran away soon after shooting the contractor and the villager dead,” one of them said.
The dispute between Noor and his assailants is still foggy. Sources said rivalry over the revenue contract might have been the trigger. But, residents and police failed to shed more light on the case.
“Noor had the contract of collecting revenue from the market since last year. That is all we know,” said a resident.
Senior police officers, on the other hand, parried pointed questions saying that “the matter is being probed”.
Villagers expressed concern over the killings and demanded better security along NH-75, now that President’s Rule had been imposed in the state. Governor Syed Ahmed, incidentally, took charge of Project Building some three hours before the shooting.
Does shooting near a thana reflect lax policing?