Calcutta, Dec. 7: An armed gang shot dead former Forward Bloc councillor Shah Alam Molla and grievously wounded his wife in the early hours today.
Police said the gang of around 20, armed with revolvers and choppers, struck at Molla's Atapara residence on the city's southern fringes around 2 am when his son Gokul went out to relieve himself.
'The assailants asked Gokul to keep quiet and went straight to Molla's bedroom in the one-storey building. Before Molla, who was asleep, could realise anything, they shot him from point blank range.
'When his wife raised a hue and cry and tried to resist, one of the gang members wounded her with a chopper. As the couple lay in a pool of blood, the attackers fled under the cover of darkness. They did not take away anything from Molla's house,' said Uttam Kumar Saha, inspector-in-charge of Mahestala police station.
Molla's wife Saharatan Bibi is fighting for life in a city hospital.
Saha said 55-year-old Molla was taken to the SSKM Hospital where he was declared dead. 'Though no one has been arrested yet, we are interrogating some local youths to find out the whereabouts of those involved,' he added.
District superintendent of police S.N.Gupta said a probe has been ordered into the killing of Molla, who owned a tailoring unit and ran a wholesale garment business. 'So far we have come to know that business rivalry may be one of the reasons behind the murder,' he added.
A fortnight ago, Pranab Deb, elder brother of Anuradha Deb, a former CPM MLA of Magrahat in South 24-Parganas and brother-in-law of Samir Putatunda, general secretary of the Party for Democratic Socialism, was found murdered in a dumping ground in Baguiati in North 24-Parganas.
The Left Front called a bandh in the area today to protest the murder.
Local Bloc leaders demanded a probe to ascertain if the former councillor of ward 20 of the Mahestala municipality was 'a victim of political conspiracy'.
'As local unit secretary of Mahestala, Molla was very popular in the locality. He was also instrumental behind the recent growth of the party in the area which has traditionally been a CPM's stronghold. We don't know if CPM men were involved,' said a senior Bloc leader, preferring anonymity.
Kali Bhandari, chairman of the Mahestala municipality and a senior CPM leader said: 'The murder has nothing to do with politics. Though Molla was a clean man, he might have some rivalry with other groups engaged in the tailoring business.'