Calcutta, June 10: Labourers at a construction site in Bhowanipore had just finished dinner and were preparing to go to bed when a gang of five arrived ' three in a cab and two on a motorcycle ' and ordered them to line up against a wall.
“This can’t be happening to me, not in Calcutta, such things happened only in Kashmir, I thought,” Bablu Karmakar shuddered as he recalled last night’s terror.
One of the five strangers pointed his gun at the cowering group of about 15 labourers. Then, in a sudden movement, he twisted his body to the right and fired.
“For a moment, my heart was in my mouth. Then I realised the bullet had struck a wall to our left,” Karmakar, in his mid-thirties, said.
The gunman turned to the labourers and said: “Aaj guli ta dewale laglo, kal eta tomader maliker matha te lagbe (Today the bullet has hit the wall, tomorrow one will pierce your employer’s head).”
The men left as suddenly as they had arrived, but not before sounding another warning: “Don’t forget to tell your employer everything that happened tonight.”
An officer at Bhowanipore police station said they had come looking for realtor Dilip Roy Chowdhury, who had refused to pay them the “protection money” they had asked for. But Roy Chowdhury had left the site in the evening.
“The extortionists were new to the job, perhaps that explains the drama,” he said.
The labourers told the police the gang had arrived at the Basanta Bose Road site around 10.30 pm.
“One of them had a revolver; the others carried daggers. They asked for Roy Chowdhury babu. One of them said: ‘How long will your boss take to pay us'’ When we told them he wasn’t here, they got furious and lined us up on an open patch of land on the premises,” a labourer said.
“Before they left, one of them said: ‘We’ll be back if your boss doesn’t pay up soon’.”
The police today arrested two of the gang members, Jagannath and Labba, from a south Calcutta hideout after Roy Chowdhury was able to name them as well as a third, Sunny. Jagannath and Labba have told the police it was Sunny who fired the bullet.
The extortionists are all from Charu Market in Tollygunge, the police said. They had recently banded together and had been demanding money from the promoter since the past couple of weeks.