Domjur, Aug. 29: A 14-year-old boy was killed when an extortionist’s two sons and their aides allegedly opened indiscriminate fire at a Howrah fair and later pumped more bullets into the boy’s chest after his “exhausted” cousin and friend were forced to leave him behind.
Tarak Shau, a school dropout who used to work at a grille factory, had initially suffered a bullet injury when Partha Golui alias Chhotka, his brother Pradip alias Barka and 10 of their aides started firing at villagers at the Domjur fair last night following a clash arising out of a misunderstanding.
The attackers chased villagers, including Tarak’s cousin and friend who were carrying the bleeding boy on their shoulders, through the streets, firing all the while. After the “exhausted” duo left Tarak beside the road and fled, thinking that he would not be attacked again, the gang pumped bullets into his chest and thigh, killing him on the spot.
Last night, a group of villagers were making fun of an effeminate youth at the fair. The youth too was making gestures to “entertain” them, when Chhotka, 20, assumed he was the butt of the joke and picked up a fight with the villagers.
The villagers went to Chhotka’s home and complained to his father Tapas, who is said to be an extortionist. Tapas then came to the fair and chided his son, said Shyamal Dolui, a villager. “Chhotka and Barka (21) went home and returned with hockey sticks. They attacked us but we retaliated. Outnumbered, the brothers fled,” Shyamal said.
Minutes later, the brothers returned with 10 associates, all armed with guns, rods and sticks. “They started firing indiscriminately. The villagers ran helter-skelter. Three of them suffered bullet injuries,” Shyamal said.
Tarak, whose father is a rickshaw-puller, suffered a bullet injury in his leg while his cousin Rabin Dey, 26, took a bullet in his thigh. Anil Panja, 25, another villager, suffered a bullet injury in his rib cage.
Gora Dey, another of Tarak’s cousins, and Rabi Shau, a friend of the boy, lifted him on their shoulders and started fleeing. Many of the villagers also ran with them. But the attackers chased them, firing in their direction.
“After running for about 200 metres, we became exhausted. We put Tarak down beside a roadside LPG godown and fled. We thought he would not be attacked again as he had already been hit,” Gora said. But eyewitnesses said the attackers pumped three more bullets into Tarak, killing him on the spot.
All the 12 attackers are absconding.
“While two bullets pierced Tarak’s chest, another got lodged in his thigh,” a police officer said.
As the news of the firing spread, around 100 villagers attacked Chhotka’s house in Salap, 1km from the fair grounds, and beat up his father, Tapas.
When Tapas tried to flee on his motorcycle, he was caught and the bike set on fire. Cops rescued him and took him to the local police station.
This morning, nearly 200 villagers ransacked Tapas’s house and set it on fire. They threw furniture, a TV set and a fridge out of the house and made a bonfire of them. Tapas’s family members had fled last night.
A police team chased away the villagers. “We found five spent and two live cartridges at Tarak’s house,” said Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the additional police chief of Howrah. “We are looking for Tapas’s sons and the other miscreants. Murder charges have been slapped on all of them. We are also looking into a complaint by villagers that Tapas used to extort money from them,” he added.
“We have arrested Tapas as he was allegedly following the attackers on his bike when they were chasing the villagers,” Chaturvedi said. He has also been booked under the arms act.
Tarak’s aunt Kalyani said: “The boy’s mother is shattered. My son Rabin suffered injuries in the firing. We demand exemplary punishment for those responsible.”
Salap residents today observed a 12-hour bandh in the village to protest the firing.
Rabin and Anil were initially taken to Howrah district hospital and later shifted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.