Monday, 30th October 2017

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Trader murder sparks tent protest

Shot dead in heart of Ranchi, with PCR van just 200m away

By Vijay Deo Jha in Ranchi
  • Published 7.10.18, 1:06 AM
  • Updated 7.10.18, 1:06 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Ripple effect: Protesters block Main Road at Sujata Chowk in Ranchi on Saturday. Prashant Mitra

A rice trader was shot dead by three unidentified persons late on Friday night near Rospa Tower on Main Road in the heart of the capital, sparking shock and anger among the trading community on Saturday.

Around 9.20pm on Friday, Narendra Singh Hora (56), who was returning from his Upper Bazar shop Amrit Traders to his Pepee Compound home on his scooter, was shot thrice by the gunmen on a bike. Ironically, PCR van was patrolling barely 200 metres away.

Hora was declared dead at Gurunanak Hospital. His scooter was found abandoned behind Gossner College, 500 metres from the crime spot, but the Rs 5 lakh in cash kept in its dicky was missing.

On Saturday morning, hundreds of traders, Hora’s relatives and many from the Sikh community blocked Main Road at Sujata Chowk from 9am till over noon to protest Hora’s murder and demanded arrests of culprits within 48 hours. Protesters even pitched tents and refused to budge till chief minister Raghubar Das came to take strong action against the growing lawlessness in the capital, especially ahead of the festive season.

Traffic at Main Road, Doranda and Bahu Bazaar, Station Road was affected and the cascading impact of the jam was felt at many places. Traffic got streamlined only at 1pm, a little after the protest was called off when Ranchi SSP Anish Gupta, city SP Aman Kumar and traffic SP Sanjay Ranjan Singh among others promised the culprits would be arrested soon.

“We have given Ranchi police 48 hours’ deadline to arrest all three criminals behind the murder or else we will resort to agitation. Criminals strike at will and escape. Hora was murdered on Main Road. It is high time city police should introspect,” said joint secretary of Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce & Industries Praveen Kumar Jain.

He added that Upper Bazar and Pandra, both wholesale hubs, were not safe and policing at night should be stronger.

Police claimed to have started working on the Hora murder case on priority basis and would constitute a special task force.

A police source said CCTV footage near Kathi Kabab showed criminals trailing Hora on a bike. Criminals were wearing white, maroon and orange tee shirts. After the murder, the one in maroon tee was seen riding Hora’s scooter.

“Three criminals on a bike were involved. It seems they were tracking the movements of the deceased. As of now, it is not clear if this snatching or planned murder. The deceased’s kin have said he had no dispute with anyone,” said city SP Aman Kumar.

He said police procured some CCTV footage of Main Road for help in the probe besides a lone eye-witness who works as a security guard at a shop on Main Road. The eye-witness told police that criminals stopped Hora on the road. The eye-witness heard a verbal clash and then gunshots.

Police sources said the deceased had a land dispute within his extended family, but his kin ruled out that reason as a motive for murder. Hora’s son Rupendra Singh said his father closed his shop around 8.30pm. “Usually I accompanied him. But on Friday I came home early at around 6.30pm. My father had no rivalry or enmity with anybody. We did not receive any threat call,” he added.

Commuters had a tough time the entire morning. Rashmi Kumari, a student from Bihar who came to Ranchi early morning as she had an appointment with a doctor at Doranda, said she could not make it to the doctor’s chamber. “I have been given a date on Monday,” she said, adding she was staying with relatives in Kanke. Senior lawyer at Jharkhand High Court Rajiv Kumar who lives at AG Colony in Doranda, said, “It took me around two and a half hours to reach office, which is barely 2km away from my home,” he said.

Political outrage

JMM executive president and leader of Opposition in the state Assembly on Saturday took part in murdered trader Narendra Singh Hora’s funeral and through a communiqué said law and order had collapsed in the state and people were afraid of going out. Many Opposition leaders from Congress, JVM and JMM visited the bereaved family. State Congress leader Samsher Alam pointed out police informer Budhu Das was shot dead near the chief minister’s residence recently.