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Syndicate fight whiff in murder

- Kasba electrician killed after protesting big player’s ‘arm-twisting’

Calcutta, May 24: A young electrician died today after being beaten and slashed in Kasba last night, police blaming it on “rivalry” between suppliers of construction materials.

Police sources said 32-year-old victim Manoj Shaw’s dying declaration named eight suspects, including an alleged tough who they said had switched loyalties from the CPM to Trinamul just before the 2011 Assembly polls. However, a Trinamul Congress leader denied any links between the party and prime accused Munna Pandey, whom Manoj’s family too have named in the FIR.

The police have arrested Sheikh Qutubuddin alias Bhoglu, said to be an associate of Munna. Officers said Manoj had named Bhoglu.

Sheikh Usman, the building materials supplier for whom Manoj used to work, said Munna owned a “big” construction materials syndicate and had been arm-twisting the smaller players in the area to shut their businesses and work for him. He said Manoj had protested against this.

Manoj, who leaves behind a three-year-old daughter and a wife who is five months pregnant, was attacked by motorbike-borne assailants in a Bosepukur pocket where many multi-storey buildings have come up in the past few years and several more are being built.

Manoj used to work as an electrician in buildings being constructed with materials supplied by the “small” syndicate to which he was attached.

“Munna and his men have been warning us with threats to close down our business and join his syndicate,” Usman said.

“Manoj had not only protested this, he had also played a key role in submitting a memorandum against Munna at Kasba police station. The memorandum was signed by members of syndicates other than Munna’s, and some residents.”

Sources said Munna, who they said liked being addressed as “Munna Bhai”, enjoyed political patronage.

In police records, Munna is an accused in a five-year-old double-murder case. He is out on bail.

“He was again arrested before the Lok Sabha polls during a police drive against those with criminal antecedents. He was released a few days ago,” an officer at Kasba police station said.

A senior Trinamul leader in Kasba said: “I don’t know any Munna Pandey. Nowadays, everybody wants to be associated with the party.”

“It (the murder) stemmed from group rivalry,” a police officer said. “Both parties have lodged complaints against each other.”

He said Bhoglu, the arrested suspect, had lodged a complaint accusing Manoj and his friends of attacking him and his associates. According to Bhoglu, the officer said, Manoj had got “injured accidentally” in the scuffle.

The officer said that in his dying declaration, Manoj had alleged that “some men on motorbikes had attacked him from behind” while he was walking down a road.

“He named Munna and seven others. Munna and six others are absconding,” he said.

According to Manoj’s elder sister Chandni, a young man in the neighbourhood had called Manoj out of his home around 10.30 last night, offering information on those who had assaulted a person working for Usman’s syndicate.

“Manoj said he would return within half an hour. When he did not return even at 11.30pm, we made several calls to his mobile number. A policeman received one of the calls an hour later and said Manoj was seriously injured,” she said.

The police said Manoj had been beaten with iron rods, slashed with knives and dumped in a bush by the road.

A police patrol spotted him crawling out of the bush and took him to MR Bangur Hospital, from where he was shifted to Calcutta National Medical College Hospital. He died this morning.