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Since 1st March, 1999
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Protectors kill promoter
- Switch of preference to cheaper goons costly: Police

Calcutta, June 7: Changing his “protectors” probably led to the murder of budding promoter Subrata Halder.

Initial investigations have revealed that Halder, who used to supply materials to BSNL and was aspiring to become a real estate developer, got caught between two groups of criminals providing “protection” and became a victim of gang rivalry.

Around 4.30pm yesterday, local promoter Swapan Bhattacharya had come to Halder’s house off Dum Dum’s Gorakshabashi Road and asked him to accompany him.

They went to a ground barely 500 metres away where an altercation broke out between them. Two youths, standing at a distance, walked up to them and pumped two bullets into Halder’s chest.

He died on the spot. Ironically, only a few yards from the first building he was promoting.

Initially, the police said, Halder used to give protection money to local criminal Totan and his henchmen Chhotan and Puchka, all of whom have been arrested.

But gradually their demands went up and two months ago they asked for Rs 1 lakh.

At this, Halder lodged a complaint with the police naming Totan and his gang and alleging that they were extorting money.

Having lodged the complaint, Halder decided to patronise another gang that promised him protection, especially against Totan and Co.

The police have pieced together this story from the interrogation of the three in custody since last night.

The police have also questioned Swapan, especially since he was one of Halder’s closest friends.

“We are questioning Swapan extensively since it was he who had called Halder out of his house before he was murdered,” said Barrackpore additional superintendent of police P.K. Tripathi.

“The new gang that was providing protection to Halder comprised Bhakti, Mukti and Sentu,” a police officer said.

“It is another local gang competing in crime with Totan. They had apparently promised protection to Halder at a cheaper rate.”

The police also said the two groups were backed by rival factions of the local CPM. “That is why, even after lodging the complaint against Totan’s gang, Halder was compelled to withdraw it,” an officer said.

The police said they had recovered the revolver that had been used in Halder’s murder.

However, they refused to reveal where they found it.

Two cartridges were apparently found along with the gun.

Totan and his two henchmen were produced before the subdivisional judicial magistrate’s court in Barrackpore this afternoon and remanded in police custody till June 14.

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