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62-yr-old shot dead at home

An elderly man, sitting outside his home after morning exercises, was fatally shot from point-blank range by two men on a bike in the heart of Hazaribagh town on Thursday.

Naresh Prasad (62), who ran a utensil store on the ground floor of his two-storeyed house in densely populated Nura Mohalla — a stone’s throw from many a VIP address — clutched his bleeding chest, walked a few steps into home and then collapsed and died in front of his wife.

While the bizarreness of the attack on the elderly, who neighbours describe as kind-hearted and a man with no enemies, has left police baffled, the midtown shooting has triggered ripples of panic in Nura Mohalla and beyond.

Prasad originally hailed from Bankipur in Patna, Bihar, but shifted to Hazaribagh in 1974 and later started his utensil business. Nephew Ravi Kumar said his uncle was an early riser. “He had the habit of walking on the terrace and doing some free-hand exercises. Then, he would sit in front of his shop, treating stray dogs to chapattis,” Kumar said.

Though police failed to get any eyewitness account, a local resident told reporters that the two assailants came on a bike. Seeing them, Prasad turned go inside home but was shot in the back. The bullet left the body through the chest and he died in front of wife Girija Devi, who retired as a teacher from Bendi government school in March, around 5.40am.

The couple’s adopted son Prabhakar Kumar informed police. A team of senior officers, including SP Manoj Kaushik, DSP Arvind Kumar Singh, Sadar OC Dayanand Azad and traffic in-charge R.S. Mishra, also a forensic expert, inspected the murder spot.

DSP Singh said they had taken the statement of family members and neighbours, but had not found a direct witness so far. “We will have to probe all angles,” he said, without specifying any.

Sources at Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital, where the post-mortem was conducted, said Prasad’s killers were hired professionals. “The bullet was shot in such a way that it damaged vital internal organs, slimming down chances of survival,” said a doctor.

The body was later handed over to the bereaved family for last rites.

Nura Mohalla is situated half a kilometre away from Hazaribagh Lakes, hosts several VIP addresses on its banks including residences of administrative and police top brass, besides a CRPF camp and the high-security central jail. Daylight shooting in this “safe zone” has sparked panic among residents. Concerns have doubled in the wake of the rape of a college student on Canary Hill, near town, on Monday evening and cash loot from an SBI van on NH-33 the same afternoon.