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In crime, man of many parts

From illegal real estate deals to hooch dens, murder accused Shyamal Karmakar’s rise in crime continued over the past six years despite political change, police said on Sunday.

Shyamal, prime accused in the murder of college student and anti-hooch crusader Sourav Chowdhury, allegedly assaulted two persons over the past fortnight, including a 50-year-old tailor who had protested against customers in his hooch dens making lewd comments at women passing by.

“There have been several complaints of assault, threats and committing nuisance in public places against him. He has been arrested several times and released on bail. These cases are pending against him,” said Bhaskar Mukherjee, additional superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas.

Residents of the area said Shyamal once enjoyed the patronage of local CPM leaders but switched allegiance to the Trinamul Congress after the panchayat elections of 2008.

“Shyamal’s rise started in 2003 after he joined the camp of an influential local CPM leader,” said Tapan Das, a resident of Kulberia. “He decided to contest a panchayat seat as an Independent candidate after a rift with his CPM benefactors in 2008.”

His business as a land broker thrived while he was loyal to the CPM. “The population of the district headquarters in Barasat started rising around 2000 and Bamangachhi, which is only 5km away, became part of the real estate upswing. Shyamal capitalised on it,” a source said.

From Rs 50,000 a cottah in the late Nineties, the price of land had shot up to Rs 5 lakh in 10 years. “After 2008, he realised that the Trinamul would come to power and Shyamal soon switched allegiance,” recalled Sushanta Das, who lives in Kulberia.

Soma Dutta, daughter of local CPM leader Babulal Dutta, said Shyamal once used to visit their house regularly. “Since my father was a gram panchayat member, hundreds of people would visit our house and Shyamal was one of them.”

Shyamal and his men allegedly attacked Dutta’s house two years ago when he protested against the hooch business in Kulberia. “They hurled bombs and opened fire at our house. They threatened my father against raising his voice against hooch,” Soma said.

Ranjit Kundu, district committee member of CPM, denied Shyamal had any link with his party. “He never had anything to do with our party,” he said.

Trinamul minister Jyotipriyo Mullick too denied Shyamal had anything to do with the ruling party. “Our partymen are not involved in this incident. Shyamal was seen in BJP rallies led by its candidate P.C. Sorcar Jr. before the Lok Sabha polls.”