An eyewitness in the murder of Congress councillor of Jhalda municipality Tapan Kandu was found hanging at his residence in the town on Wednesday.
Niranjan Baishnab, 48, alias Shepal, was a friend of Kandu. Niranjan was found hanging from the ceiling of his tiled-roof house at Baishnabpara in Jhalda around 7am.
The witness died on a day the CBI reached Jhalda and filed an FIR on the councillor’s murder on the basis of a complaint lodged by police.
A “suicide note”, purportedly written by Niranjan who gave tuitions for a living, was found in the same room where the body was hanging, police said. “We have started a case of unnatural death. Family members claimed his mobile phone had gone missing,” said Purulia district police chief S. Selvamurugan.
Niranjan’s family members alleged that he had faced “intimidation” and “mental torture” from the police. They said the police were putting pressure on him to withdraw his name from the list of eyewitnesses in the Kandu murder case.
Rejecting the allegations, Selvamurugan said the police had summoned and questioned Niranjan as one of the five eyewitnesses in the murder case. “The charge against the police is not right as he was quizzed as part of the investigation,” the SP said.
Kandu, a four-time Congress councillor, was shot dead on March 13 by three motorcycle-borne assailants when he was on an evening stroll with his wife Purnima and friend Niranjan near his residence at Jhalda.
Niranjan’s family had initially refused to hand over the “suicide note” to the police as they held the law enforcers responsible for his death.
“We do not trust the police. They have provoked my brother to commit suicide. We want the CBI to probe the matter,” said Nepal.
In the purported suicide note, Niranjan claimed that he was under severe stress because of repeated phone calls from the police in connection with the murder of Kandu.
“I have been under mental stress since the day I saw Tapan’s death in front of my eyes. The scene of his death is coming back to my mind every moment and I cannot sleep or eat properly. The mental stress is aggravated by the repeated calls from the police,” a police officer said quoting from the suicide note.
“I had never visited any police station in my life. This is becoming unbearable for me. I have taken this decision on my own and no one has forced me to take my life,” the note added.
Niranjan had started the day teaching students at his residence. “Suddenly, he went to his room after giving some tasks to the students. He was later found hanging inside the room,” said Nepal.
The body was sent for autopsy.
Trinamul leader Kunal Ghosh termed Niranjan’s death as unfortunate. “Niranjan Baishnab was very close to Tapan Kandu. It is obvious that the police will call him for interrogation. It is sad if he had committed suicide but one must find who is benefiting from this politics of death.”