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No time to act, trader kills self

Margram (Birbhum), Feb. 24: A Birbhum trader allegedly forced to quit acting in street plays to concentrate on his business was found dead in his home today dressed like Shiva.

The body of Shibananda Das, who used to play the role of gods in his village before setting up a shop to sell fried fritters near the Tarapith temple, was painted blue and smeared with ash. He also donned a white wig.

The 55-year-old trader’s wife said Shibananda was “depressed” at having to quit acting and set up his business to make both ends meet.

According to his family members, Shibananda used to work as a weaver in Murshidabad’s Khargram but shifted to Karkaria in Birbhum about 12 years ago to augment his income. For the past five years, he had been selling fried fitters and puffed rice outside the Kali temple in Tarapith.

“As a weaver, my husband did not earn much and we were living in abject poverty. But he loved acting and played gods and kings in street plays. When we were finding it difficult to make both ends meet, a neighbour suggested that he set up a shop outside Tarapith temple.

“We shifted to Karkaria village near Tarapith where we knew some people. Although business was brisk, my husband was depressed as he did not get time to act in plays,” Shibananda’s wife Ambika said.

The trader’s wife said that Shibananda would often say that he would wind up his business and go back to acting. “This depression killed him,” the woman said.

Gopinath Das, Shibananda’s nephew who is a hawker in Murshidabad’s Kandi, said his uncle’s dressing up like Shiva before hanging himself did not surprise him.

“We all knew about his love for acting. He was passionate about it. I am not surprised that he painted his body and wore a wig to look like Shiva before committing suicide,” Gopinath said.

Shibananda’s body has been sent for post mortem.

Koteswara Rao, the subdivisional police officer of Rampurhat, said: “We have heard about his love for acting. We will speak to the family members about it. We are waiting for the post-mortem report.”