PURULIA: While the lives of 30-year-old shopkeeper Dulal Kumar and 21-year-old Trilochan Mahato were different, events leading to the deaths of both the BJP workers -- who were found hanging near their villages in Balarampur in Purulia district of West Bengal in a span of three days -- were strikingly similar.
While B.A. third year student Trilochan, youngest of four sons of 58-year-old Hariram Mahato and 45-year-old Pano Mahato of Supurdi village, was a famous graffiti maker of BJP; ration shop owner
Dulal, a father of three children in Dava village, was an influential booth leader. Both had joined BJP a few months back.
According to residents of the two villages which are 10 km apart, both Trilochan and Dulal were threatened by unknown persons a few days before their deaths as both were leaders of BJP’s Booth Raksha Committee formed to prevent rigging in the panchayat elections. BJP won all the nine Gram Panchayats in Balarampur in the recent elections.
“After our victory in the panchayat elections, we held a victory rally in the village in which all the residents contributed around 1.5 quintal chicken and celebrated. The celebration irked the local TMC leaders and they threatened Trilochan with dire consequences as he was very active as a party member,” local BJP member Bijoy Mahato said.
On the other hand, Dulal’s 27-year-old widow Monica Kumar said he too was threatened by unknown persons a few days before his death. “My husband told me that unknown persons threatened him a few days ago saying: ‘You have become a very big leader. We will take care of you’,” Monica Kumar said.
“They wanted to seek revenge and teach people a lesson. So, they killed locally influential BJP workers,” said 60-year-old Bhootnath Kumar, who won panchayat elections from Dava village on a BJP
Narrating the events leading up to the death of Trilochan, his brother Shibnath said: “He had gone to Balarampur to photocopy his documents on May 29 at 4.30 pm. At 7.18 pm, I called him and he said
he will return after a half hour. Not finding him after returning home, I called him 12 times from 8 pm onwards. Finally, he picked the call at 8.37 pm and said he was kidnapped by five people and his hands were tied and eyes blindfolded. He said before being blindfolded, he was being taken into Atkathia forest, 1.5 km from Supurdi. A police team launched search and found the body at 5 am.”
“They wanted to create an example that ordinary people should not vote for BJP,” said Balarampur BJYM president Chotulal Mahato.
Both Trilochan’s father Hariram Mahato and Dulal’s widow Monica Kumar alleged involvement of locals in the murder. “My husband had a fixed routine. He would deliver food to his father at our shop on the highway thrice a day and in the evening he would take bath in a local pond. On June 1, he returned from ‘police station gherao’ programme of BJP at around 4 pm and went to deliver food to father and then was taking bath in the pond. But even when he did not return after an hour, we started searching him. His body was found next day on a power transmission tower one kilometer from
the village. I suspect the involvement of locals in the murder who knew his routine,” Monica Kumar said.
“Definitely locals were involved in the murder or else how did they know about his whereabouts,” Hariram Mahato said. Asked whether they suspected anyone, both replied in negative.