The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Painter lynched for rash rider protest

Siliguri, Nov. 4: Local toughs beat a 25-year-old painter to death on the outskirts of Siliguri early today for protesting against rash driving.

Chetan Gurung, son of a police officer, died at a nursing home in Siliguri hours after he was admitted with head injuries.

Police said the goons first beat Chetan unconscious near his house at Kalamjote. As he regained consciousness and was being taken to hospital, the miscreants chased the rickshaw, dragged him down and hit him in the head with iron rods near Kadamtala.

Chetan collapsed in a pool of blood. He died of the injuries a few hours later.

As the news of his death spread in the morning, hundreds of residents blocked the road in protest.

They relented only after the police arrived and promised to capture the culprits. The residents were angry that Chetan was dragged from the rickshaw and beaten up in a high-security area, with the BSF’s north zone headquarters and a central intelligence agency office located close by.

No one was arrested till late evening. A police picket was posted as tension ran high.

Trouble erupted last night when Chetan and his friends, hanging out on the roadside, protested the rash driving of Gautam Singh, weaving through the narrow street on his motorcycle. Some passers-by joined in, yelling at Singh and his pillion rider.

Singh sped away, only to return an hour letter with his associates to “teach Chetan and his friends a lesson,” police said. They set upon Chetan and beat him up mercilessly. But residents chased them away.

By the time they left, Gurung was lying on the road unconscious. After he came to sense, his family members tried to rush the bruised man to hospital in a rickshaw. But en route, Singh and his associates stopped the rickshaw and thrashed him again.

“We don't understand why they had picked on my son and murdered him brutally for making some noise about their rash driving,” said father G.K. Gurung, the officer in-charge of an Arunachal Pradesh police station.

He said his son was being taken to a nursing home for a brain scan.

The father had come home to spend Diwali with his family. “It’s a festival of lights, but they took the light away from my home,” he said, sobbing like a child. The father vowed to bring the killers to justice. “I will fight to the end.”

M.K. Lama, a neighbour, said Chetan had no enemy. “He was an artist. He had painted the interiors of a local monastery graced by the Dalai Lama.”

Police sources said Singh, the main accused, was close to an influential political leader.

Bagdogra circle inspector Prodyut Kumar Das said they are conducting raids to capture the culprits. “We are determined to arrest Gautam Singh and the rest.”

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