Constable kills woman, injures two near Bangladesh mission
A constable on Friday left his post at a police kiosk outside the Bangladesh deputy high commission in Beckbagan for a “tea break” and began firing indiscriminately from his service rifle, killing a passer-by and injuring two people before shooting himself dead.
Chodup Lepcha, 28, fired “in every possible direction”, the bullets hitting walls, parked cars and passers-by, eyewitnesses said.
Lepcha then put the gun to his head and fired, spilling the insides of his head out on the road.
The dead passer-by was Rima Singh, a 28-year-old physiotherapist from Dasnagar, Howrah, who was walking along Lower Range Road towards Circus Avenue. Rima, who took a bullet in the neck, was her family’s lone breadwinner.
The two injured victims are Mohammad Bashir Alam, 49, a resident of Collin Street, and Mohammad Sarfaraz, 19, a resident of Alimuddin Street.
Alam, who was on his motorcycle, suffered a bullet injury on the back of his right shoulder while a bullet grazed Sarfaraz’s left hand. They were taken to SSKM Hospital.
Lepcha and Rima were taken to Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, where they were declared dead.
“Chodup Lepcha had been given the job with Calcutta police less than a year ago on compassionate grounds (after his father’s death). Why he shot himself or why he had this depressionary tendency, we will have to investigate,” police commissioner Vineet Goyal said.
“He had returned from leave only yesterday (Thursday). If anyone (in the police) is depressed, we shall definitely try to help.”
Eyewitnesses said the shooting began around 2.15pm, with gunshots ringing around the peaceful residential neighbourhood of Lower Range Road.
“I saw a policeman shooting here and there. Then he shot two bullets that hit the road,” a young eyewitness who lives on the first floor of a three-storey building on Lower Range Road, and was out on the street, said.
“Initially, I thought he was practising shooting. But his body movements looked strange and inconsistent. He then raised the gun and resumed shooting. This time I was scared and ran inside.”
Anita Pallie, a homemaker who lives in an apartment off Lower Range Road, said she had stepped onto her balcony around 2.19pm on hearing the gunshots. She saw Lepcha fire in the air and then shoot himself.
“I had heard what sounded like gunshots for a few minutes; so I went to the balcony to check. At the corner of the road, I saw a policeman with a rifle. He fired in the air. The next moment he shot himself and slumped on the road,” Pallie said.
Another eyewitness who runs a shop in the neighbourhood said the road wasn’t too crowded when Lepcha began shooting.
“He was pointing his gun at people and passing motorcycles at random. A bullet hit a woman who was walking by. Another hit a man on a two-wheeler,” the shopkeeper said.
A police officer said: “It’s lucky the casualties are limited. The 7.62mm SLR, with which he was firing, can kill at 300 metres. Fortunately, most of the bullets missed people.”