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Shot dead after turf war

A 28-year-old man was shot dead outside a park near his home in Phoolbagan late on Monday.

Satyendra Rai, who owned a cowshed and supplied milk to tea stalls, restaurants and households, had set off from his Phoolbagan home around 10pm to collect money from customers and got involved in a scuffle between two groups of local youths.

His younger brother found him dead with a bullet injury on his chest half an hour later, outside a park opposite his home.

Based on a complaint filed by his brother, police detained three youths who were allegedly involved in the scuffle. “A search is on for two others who had allegedly threatened Satyendra for intervening in the fight,” said an officer of Phoolbagan police station.

Satyendra’s brother Devendra said he was on his way home on his motorcycle around 1am when he saw someone slumped on the footpath outside the park, around 500 metres from the Kankurgachhi Pantaloons outlet.

“I turned the headlight towards the spot and was shocked to find that it was my brother. I tried to make him sit but found his body cold. There were blood stains on the left side of his chest,” said Devendra.

Devendra and some of his friends took Satyendra to NRS Medical College and Hospital, around 3km away, where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

Residents said that hours before he was found dead, Satyendra had tried to pacify two groups of local youths — one loyal to Trinamul and the other to the BJP — who were fighting over the control of the park where Narendra Modi had held an election rally.

“Satyendra had separated the two groups. After the warring groups left, he was seen sitting outside the park and speaking on his phone. About an hour later, around 1am, his brother found him dead,” said another officer of Phoolbagan police station, hardly 200 metres from the spot.

Sources said BJP supporters had held a rally in the area on Monday evening, shortly after Modi took oath as Prime Minister.

“Since Modi had campaigned in the park, some BJP supporters had tried to take control of it. While Monday evening’s rally was in progress, a section of supporters even had a verbal exchange with some of the Trinamul Congress supporters. Later in the night, members of these two groups had a scuffle outside the park when Satyendra, whose brother is a BJP supporter, intervened and separated the two groups,” said one of Satyendra’s neighbours.

The neighbour said that she had even heard the gunshot but took it as the sound of one of the many crackers which was bursting in the area since yesterday evening.

A resident of Bihar, Satyendra is survived by his wife and two children, who stay at her village home. In Calcutta, he was staying with his brother in a one-room tolly shed in the Phoolbagan shanty. The brothers also owned a cowshed – a cramped 6 feet by 8 feet space housing four buffaloes.

Although cowsheds have been declared illegal within the city and the state government claims to have taken khatal removal drives from time to time, Satyendra had somehow managed to retain the cowshed. “He had a ‘setting’ with the local police and even used to supply milk to some senior officers,” said another neighbour.