| Bhabani Karan with her son on Friday. Telegraph picture
Jambari (Nandigram), May 4: A feud over a failed love affair may have led to a man being murdered in Nandigram on Sunday behind the façade of the fresh political flare-up.
Mahitosh Karan, 36, was shot with a single-barrel gun on a field in Jambari as his wife Bhabani watched from behind a clump of pui shak, police have been told.
“Five men surrounded him and one of them, Prabhat Pal, shot him in cold blood. Ashok Karan, a distant cousin of my husband, was beside Pra- bhat,” Bhabani Karan, 30, told The Telegraph today.
“We have had a 15-year-old feud with the Pals since Prabhat had a relationship with a girl from our family but didn’t marry her. With Ashok’s family, we have had a land dispute.”
Both Prabhat and Ashok are Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters and Mahitosh was a CPM man. “They took advantage of the political violence to settle scores,” Bhabani told the police.
Mahitosh is the “missing” second victim of the day that saw 20-year-old Dilip Mondal, another CPM supporter, dragged out and killed before his family in Tantipara. The official toll continues to be one.
In a police complaint, Bhabani said her husband’s body was wrapped in a plastic sheet and taken away in a cycle van.
Nandigram officer-in-charge Champak Choudhuri confirmed receiving the complaint. “We are searching for the body,” he said.
Paritosh, the victim’s younger brother, said he was helping Mahitosh and Bhabani pick pui shak (an edible creeper) from the field when they heard a commotion in the distance.
“Committee members armed with guns, swords and sticks were coming our way. Boudi and I ran to the other side of the field and hid behind the thick foliage. But dada faced the mob,” Paritosh said.
“The raiders marched past our house but five of them broke away and walked towards my husband,” Bhabani said. “Prabhat was carrying a gun. He raised it at my husband, who tried to say something. But Prabhat fired. He cried out and slumped to the ground.”
Hearing the gunshot, the other committee members turned back, came across to the spot and took the body away.
Paritosh said Ashok had threatened Mahitosh before over the property dispute.
Neighbours recalled that Mahitosh and Prabhat had been close friends in their youth. Prabhat then fell in love with a girl from the Karan family.
“But Prabhat’s father, a rich farmer, was too proud to let him marry a girl from a poorer family. Since then, the two families have been enemies,” a villager said.
Mahitosh and his family have been CPM supporters for decades. Prabhat is believed to have been part of the Pratirodh Committee mobs that rampaged through half-a-dozen villages on Sunday after beating back a CPM attempt to enter Nandigram.
He denied killing Mahitosh. “He and I didn’t see eye to eye, but I didn’t shoot him. His wife couldn’t have seen me because I wasn’t there at the time,” Prabhat added, holding a single-barrel gun in his hand.