A 45-year-old promoter, Ujjal Dey, was beaten to death on his doorstep at Sasthitala, in Howrah town, on Monday night, for refusing to pay protection money.
The murder has sent shock waves in the area. Dey’s neighbours and other residents gathered on Kona Road on Tuesday morning and demonstrated against the murder.
Dey’s wife, Srabani, friends and associates allege that criminals had demanded “protection money’’ and had threatened him several times in the past 15 days. “He steadfastly refused to be cowed down by the threats,” a business associate of Dey said.
Howrah police admitted that Dey was being threatened ever since he took over a plot in the neighbourhood for construction. “But he never officially complained at the local police station,’’ an officer said.
Superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said Dey had parked his scooter in a garage and was walking towards his house on lonely Kona Road, a few minutes before Monday midnight, when three men stopped him. Investigations revealed that the men pushed and abused him and then hit him with iron rods.
“They smashed his head and face. Dey slumped on the ground. Not satisfied, they shot him from their improvised revolvers,’’ Kumar said.
The trio walked off after killing Dey. Neighbours came out of their houses on hearing his screams and the shots being fired. They took Dey to Howrah General Hospital. But, police said, he succumbed to his injuries early on Tuesday.
Kumar said the criminals had specific information about Dey’s movements on Monday night. “Dey is never so late in returning home. Moreover, he usually brings the scooter till the doorstep of his house after returning from work. Dey parks the scooter in the garage, a stone’s throw away from the house, after dinner,’’ Kumar added. But on Monday, Dey had to change his plans, as he got delayed in a meeting.
As news of Dey’s murder spread on Tuesday morning, angry residents alleged that a police-criminal nexus was responsible for the murder.
“Ujjal had recently started construction of a multi-storeyed apartment block in the area. He was receiving threats from criminals over the past month,’’ said Santanu Halder, a neighbour. Dey's in-laws owned the plot and they had authorised him to begin construction. Kumar said he will probe the nexus angle.