The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bandh to protest death derails life

Jamshedpur, Feb. 18: The dawn-to-dusk West Singhbhum bandh, called to protest against the murder of Congress leader Sumai Gagrai, was a success today.

No untoward incident was reported from the district during the bandh, though.

Shops, educational institutions and other business establishments remained close throughout the day in Chaibasa and Chakradharpur. Commercial vehicles, including buses and auto- rickshaws, remained off the roads right from the early morning.

The train services on Chakradharpur-Tata stretch was also affected as the bandh supporters squatted on the railway tracks in Chakradharpur and Barabambo. South Bihar Express was detained at Tatanagar station for sometime but no train was cancelled.

Former West Singhbhum district Congress president Sumai Gagrai was shot dead by unidentified assailants near Chakradharpur Railway Institute last night. The assailants pumped bullets in the chest and head of the leader. He died on the spot. There was no eyewitness to the incident but some local residents had heard the sound of gunshots.

Jharkhand State Congress president Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu said the murder was an outcome of Gagrai’s protest against civil contractors, who used to bag contracts using unfair means. He observed the murder of the former district president was a big blow to the party.

Balmuchu, who rushed to Chaibasa this afternoon after receiving the news of Gagrai’s death, said the victim did not allow corruption to prevail in government offices, particularly on matters related to civil contracts.

“It seems the law and order situation at Chakradharpur is in a poor shape and the administration should revamp it,” the state president said.

He demanded immediate transfer of the officer in charge of Chakradharpur police station as in the past one-and-half years 15 murders had allegedly taken place in the region.

Balmuchu demanded adequate compensation for the family members of the slain leader and a government job to the victim’s wife from the administration.

West Singhbhum unit president of All Jharkhand Students’ Union Krishna Gagrai and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Sikander Jamuda have been picked up by the police on suspicion of conspiring the murder.

The police have registered a case of murder and conspiracy against unknown persons on the basis of an FIR lodged by Vikash Gagrai, the younger brother of the slain leader Sumai Gagrai.

After the post-mortem at Chaibasa, Gagrai’s body was taken to the Congress office. People cutting across party lines were present at the funeral procession.

The body was taken to Chakradharpur for the last rites in the evening.

Earlier in 2000, the then West Singhbhum district committee president of Congress and former member of Parliament Vijay Singh Soy was murdered at Chaibasa.

The party is concerned over the spate of killings of its senior leaders.

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