Two pieces of iron scrap and a broken water pot proved reason enough for an unidentified ‘thief’ in his mid-30s to be lynched on Monday morning in a park on Rashbehari Avenue.
The man was tied to a tree and thrashed for close to an hour by those who allegedly caught him in the act of stealing iron scrap from the park. He succumbed to the beatings.
Forget about stepping forward to stop the barbaric act, some morning-walkers even joined in the assault, witnesses later told police.
Around 5 am, the ‘thief’ entered Gurdwara Park, close to Kalighat police station. The contract labourers engaged by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) were camping in the park.
“The labourers caught him when he was leaving the park with two pieces of iron and a broken water pot. They dragged him to the extreme east of the park and tied him to a tree,” said Subala Das, who lives on the pavement in front of the park.
“They tied both his legs. His hands were tied to the tree. Initially, they slapped him. But things took a brutal turn when a morning-walker in lungi and T-shirt joined in and started punching the man in his stomach. Then, the others started kicking him mercilessly,” Subala added.
Babu Sen, 10, who lives under a polythene-sheet on the same pavement, recounted: “They started beating him up from 5 am and finally left the park around 5.45 am… Ora sobai mile jhapiye porechhilo. Aar oi lokta kono katha bolar moto obosthaye chhilo na (All of them pounced on him. And that man was in no position to protest).”
Subala later claimed she had tried her best to intervene. “I even shouted at the labourers, telling them not to beat him up, but they did not pay any heed… When the man stopped making any sound, the attackers realised something was wrong. One by one, they left the park.”
Kalighat police station received a one-line tip-off around 7 am — “a man lying dead in the park”. “Accordingly, we have registered an unnatural death case,” said an officer.
The control room at Lalbazar headquarters was not aware of the incident till Monday evening. “Tai naki… erokom hoyechhe' Amra khoj nichhi (Has something like this really happened' We will find out).
Sanjay Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) said later on Monday: “What exactly happened can only be disclosed after the post-mortem report reaches us.”