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Fruit-seller killed in trade hub

A 25-year-old fruit-seller was shot dead in a bustling market in the heart of Burrabazar on Thursday evening.

Mohammad Khurshid was at his fruit stall on the footpath in front of Nandram market off Brabourne Road, not more than 20 metres from a police kiosk, when an assailant shot him in his chest around 8pm. He was seen speaking to two men, one of whom fired at him.

The men took advantage of the crowded market to flee through separate bylanes after the shooting.

A one-shot revolver was recovered later.

Police suspect that Khurshid’s murder could be linked to the death of his father Mohammad Arif, who had been shot dead on MG Road in Burrabazar two years ago while returning home after packing his day’s business at Pageya Patti.

“The two murders appear to be related. Arif’s murder was an outcome of a family feud. The prime accused in that case were from their hometown, Begusarai in Bihar. They are still at large,” said a senior officer of Burrabazar police station.

Those who witnessed the killing on Thursday said two men in their early 20s, clad in shirt and jeans, approached Khurshid while he was clearing a pile of plastic bags and paper in front of his stall.

Mohammed Shamsad, who has a stall adjacent to Khurshid’s, said he overheard the duo asking about Pappu, the victim’s brother who was not there on Thursday. “Suddenly one of them took out a gun and shot him. The bullet hit the right side of his chest. Before any of us could react, they started running. Khurshid ran after them for a few metres before slumping to the ground in front of a fruit stall,” he said.

People in the locality alleged that policemen posted at the kiosk were unaware of the shooting till it was too late to catch the culprits. But officers at Burrabazar police station said the cops on duty tried to nab the killers.

An officer said they have found a long-running family dispute with the assailants. “It is a case of revenge attack. Many members of Arif’s family have been eliminated. The accused are wanted in other cases in Begusarai.”

Fruit-sellers in Burrabazar said Khurshid was the fifth among six brothers and a total of eight persons in his family have been murdered over the past four years.

“Khurshid’s elder brother Sohail was killed four years ago in their village. The bereaved father, Arif, had rented out the stall for a few months after Sohail’s death. After Arif was killed last year, Khurshid and Pappu started running the stall,” said Mohammed Shiraz, the secretary of the hawkers union in the area.