| A policeman inspects the club. Picture by Surajit Roy
Pakua (Malda), Jan. 23: Former DYFI leader Shekhar Singh was shot from point blank range last night, police said today.
Singh, who was pronounced dead at the Modipukur health centre, had been close to food processing minister Sailen Sarkar.
The town observed a 24-hour bandh today to protest against last night's killing, suspected to be the handiwork of the KLO. Angry CPM supporters surrounded police superintendent Dilip Mondol's car demanding the arrest of the assailants. The CPM will hold a series of protest rallies in the area on February 6.
According to Mondol, Singh was shot at the back of his head at 10.20 pm. He died instantly. 'There were three others with him at that time at Sympathetic Club. All three ' Kamalendu Sarkar, Moloy Mondal and Samir Roy ' were watching television. Singh was the closest to the window and was shot point blank. The bullet exited through his forehead, hit Sarkar in his ear and injured Moloy in the hand,' the police superintendent said.
The trio was rushed to the Modipukur health centre. While Singh was declared dead by doctors there. The two injured youths are still undergoing treatment.
Mondol said the motive behind the murder was still a mystery. 'We are trying to find out the motive as well as the identity of the killers. The involvement of the KLO has not been ruled out,' the police chief said. He said there was a strong possibility that the killers were from the area. He added that the weapon used was a sophisticated one.
The officer-in-charge of the Bamangola police station said plastic glasses containing liquor and a deck of playing cards have been recovered from inside the club. Singh's house is barely 50 m from where he was killed.
Today all shops in the area were shut and when Mondol arrived around 10 am, angry CPM leaders demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits. CPM district secretary Jiban Maitra, however, tried to pacify the crowd. 'This is not the time to detain the police superintendent. Let him do his work,' Sarkar said.
'The police superintendent will have to promise that the killers will be arrested soon otherwise we will resort to an indefinite bandh in the area,' shouted Chhabi Deb, a CPM leader.
Singh was an engineering graduate and has been working as sub-assistant engineer with the Cooch Behar zilla parishad for the past two years. He was to be transferred to Malda soon. His father Nirmal Kanti Singh, a former headmaster of Pakua High School, is a zonal committee member of the CPM.
Sarkar, who heard the news last night, came here from Calcutta today.
'Shekhar was an influential leader of the area but had no enemies. This is the doing of our political rivals before the elections,' Sarkar alleged. 'This is not the first such incident. Balai Saha, a party worker, was murdered near here recently. Now that the elections are approaching, the Opposition is indulging in murderous acts in places where they have no support base.' Sarkar said the party will conduct an inquiry into the case.
Singh's father, however, claimed that the murder was a KLO handiwork.
Singh's body was taken to the party office in Malda, 50 km from here, after the postmortem and then brought back here for the last rites.