| The body of Tapas Mitra in Puri on Friday. Telegraph picture
Puri/Barasat, June 23: Tapas Mitra, the 40-year-old Congress councillor of Bongaon municipality in Bengal, was shot dead in Puri last night as he bit into a dosa at one of the many snack stalls on the beach.
The killer, said to be in his mid-20s, used one bullet to kill Mitra and another to scare away local people who were about to give a chase. After the second shot, in the air, the young man melted into the darkness, police said quoting witnesses.
Officers of Bongaon police station in North 24-Parganas district, about 75 km from Calcutta, said Mitra was an accused in a double murder case. He was on bail and had to report to them periodically.
He had escaped two attempts on his life over the past year. “About three months ago, a group of miscreants hurled bombs and shot at him. He received splinter injuries in his left arm. A year ago, he was again attacked with bombs, but he escaped unhurt,” said Animesh Das, his neighbour at Bongaon and aide.
Mitra, a member of the municipality chairman’s council in charge of education, culture and youth affairs, also worked as a contractor.
His family members, including wife, Aparna, 32, refused to speak today. The slain councillor has also left behind a son who is in Class V.
A police team from Bongaon reached Puri today. Aparna’s uncle Atul Chandra also went to bring the body back.
The police in Puri today rounded up 10 people and described the suspected killer as a man of medium height with a wheatish complexion. He apparently walked with a limp.
Personnel have been posted at all exit points from the temple town, getting ready for Rathyatra, its biggest festival.
“We have enough clues to get to the killer. The murder was the climax of an old rivalry,” said Sanjib Panda, the Puri superintendent of police.
Bengal police said Mitra and the chairman of the municipality, Prasanta Bala, went to Puri on June 19 with about 250 people, most of them local truck owners and businessmen, on a holiday.
“Last night, Tapas, myself and a few others were having dosa when the youth came out of the dark and fired. Tapas collapsed on the sand as the youth fled,” Bala said over the phone from Puri.
All members of the Bongaon team, scheduled to return in the weekend, have been asked not to leave their hotel. Six of them have been detained.
A North 24-Parganas police officer said: “The motive may have its roots in the murders of Asim Adhikary and Dilip Dey in 2004. Mitra is an accused in this case. The two killed were known smugglers who operated across the border. Another reason might be a contract to fell about 1,000 trees for widening a road, which people close to Mitra bagged. We are investigating all aspects.”