Bengal councillor murder: Key eyewitness found dead

A key eyewitness in the murder of Tapan Kandu, the Congress councillor of Jhalda Municipality in West Bengal’s Purulia district, was found dead on Wednesday morning at his residence, police said.

Niranjan was a close aide of Kandu. He was with Kandu when the attack took place on March 13. Kandu was assassinated while he was having an evening walk with his wife, Purnima Kandu and Baishnab was also accompanying them.

The body of Baishnab was found hanging at his residence in Jhalda and a suicide note was recovered from his room.

In the purported suicide note it was mentioned that he was unable to bear the pressure from the district police. “I have never stepped in a police station,” he said in the note.

In the note, Baishnab also referred to the assassination of Tapan Kandu, to which he was an eyewitness and said that the scene of assassination had been haunting him since the day the tragic incident took place.

On Wednesday, Congress had called a 12-hour strike in Jhalda. While the local Congress leaders and workers were organising a rally in support of the strike, the news of Baishnab’s mysterious death went viral. The Congress workers rushed to his residence and detected the hanging body. The police later came, recovered the body and sent it for post mortem.

Tapan Kandu’s widow, Purnima Kandu, also a councillor of Jhalda Municipality claimed that there is a deep-rooted controversy behind the mysterious death of Niranjan Baishnab. “The district police had been pressuring several people since my husband was killed. I demand a CBI enquiry in the matter,” she said.

Tapan Kandu’s nephew, Mithun Kandu told media persons that Niranjan Baishanab informed him about the tremendous pressure by the district police on him since Tapan Kandu was killed. “Let the CBI now enquire about the real reason behind his mysterious death,” Kandu said.

Hours after that the division bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI enquiry in Tapan Kandu’ death, the victim’s family placed an audio clip wherein a local Trinamool Congress leader was heard threatening Tapan Kandu of dire consequences unless the latter shifts from the Congress to Trinamool. The said local Trinamool Congress leader was identified as Amal Kandu.

Before the Calcutta High Court order, a special investigation team of the state police was investigating the case. The special investigation had arrested four persons in the case which included the victim’s brother, Naren Kandu and the latter’s son, Deepak Kandu. Purulia district police superintendent, S. Selvamurugan had claimed that family feud between two brothers was the reason behind Tapan Kandu’s murder. The district police superintendent also gave a clean chit to the inspector-in-charge of Jhalda police station, Sanjeev Ghosh.

On Monday, the division bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered the CBI to submit a preliminary investigation report within 45 days.

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