Book Excerpt: Anatomy Of A Political Murder In West Bengal
The late Manish Shukla was an emerging leader in West Bengal who could well have been a candidate in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Here is a detailed study of the investigations that followed his murder.
Political Killings In Mamata's Bengal: A White Paper On Violence Against The Opposition. Shubham Tiwari And Shivam Raghuwanshi. Garuda Prakashan. Rs 126.
Name: Manish Shukla
Age: 39 years
Date: 4 October 2020
Place: Titagarh, North 24 Pargana
Manish Shukla, a lawyer, a social worker and a councilor of BJP was mercilessly shot by assailants riding on motor cycles. The incident took place near the Titagarh Police Station in the District of North 24 Parganas at 8.30 PM on Sunday, 4 October 2020.
The victim was talking with a few people and having tea outside his Scorpio car when masked gunmen opened several rounds of fire at him. The assailants, all armed with guns, parked their motorcycles in such a position so as to fire several rounds on Manish Shukla from a close range.
This was a pre-planned attack which was well coordinated and executed flawlessly with perfect timing. The assailants’ complete lack of fear of law and order and of the police indicate connivance with the state machinery including higher echelons of the police.
The fact that the CCTV camera in front of the Mamta Medical store, right at the site of the murder, was destroyed after the incident and it is alleged that the recording has gone missing, also reinforced speculations of foul play.
And it is petitioned to bring this on record that the Titagarh Police Station stood on the other side of the road at a stone’s throw distance from the scene of crime. More importantly, Shukla’s armed security was conspicuously absent when the attack was orchestrated.
There are allegations that the police were also privy to this pre-planned murder. Various videos of the incident, surfacing on social media and electronic media, indicate no presence of police personnel at the said place at the time of the incident, albeit, the Titagarh Police Station being only metres away from the scene of the crime.
*- Factual matrix has been derived from the writ petitions admitted in Calcutta High Court (Priyanka Tibrewal- Petitioner and Advocate). To retain the essence of the facts presented before the court, no change has been made in facts stated in the writs.
First Information Report (FIR)
The FIR dated 5/10/2020 filed by Chandra Mani Shukla, father of the deceased at the Titagarh Police Station names the erstwhile Chairman of Barrackpore Municipality and Titagarh Municipality, Uttam Das and Prasanta Chowdhury, respectively, and TMC trade union leader Rajendra Yadav to be the masterminds behind this incident.
Post-mortem report reveals 14 bullet injuries on the body of Manish Shukla. Out of these, four bullets were lodged in his head, neck, throat and chest, and rest had pierced his body. It is pertinent to bring this on record that the body was kept for 20 hours before being handed over to the family.
West Bengal CID investigating this case filed a charge-sheet naming 10 accused, while other suspects, including TMC leaders like Uttam Das and Prasanta Chowdhury have virtually been spared by creating another category of ’12 suspects’.
Role of State Police
In this case, there are serious allegations against the police personnel themselves as to how they were completely oblivious of a murder taking place in the vicinity of the police station. A sensational murder like this in a relatively crowded area usually under the surveillance of police personnel reveals the state of law and order situation in Bengal.
There are several factors which give rise to suspicion in this case and suggest a larger political conspiracy to eliminate a strong political leader in the area. Following questions need to be answered by the investigating agency before concluding that it was a murder due to personal rivalry and not a political conspiracy executed with the help of state police:
· Why the gun license of Shri Manish Shukla was revoked eight months ago especially when threat to his life was evident?
· Why local police station and local intelligence unit was not able to prevent the attack when the conspiracy was hatched on such a large scale and shooters were brought from outside the state?
· Why big ruling party leaders have not been charged by the state police when they have been named in FIR?
Family of the Victim
“Our life is devastated. He was a brilliant student. He did BSc, MSc IT and then did LLB. He joined politics after college. He was very popular and had a soft corner for the poor. He had taken the responsibility of educating 120 students. Family does not have faith in the CID probe initiated by the state government, the culprits arrested by the CID are history-shooters and will be released within days.”- Shri Chandramani Shukla, father of late Shri Manish Shukla
Statement of Shri Chandramani Shukla, father of late Shri Manish Shukla as reported by media outlets. We couldn’t contact late Shri Manish Shukla’s family.
Manish Shukla was an emerging leader in the area who could well have been a candidate in the 2021 Assembly elections. The manner of his killing exposes the helplessness of the police before the criminals and the situation of law and order in the state.
The motive behind the murder, as put forward by CID is the personal rivalry between Shri Shukla and the accused but it is pertinent to mention that the roots of that personal rivalry lie in the political dominance getting challenged. So, this is not simply a ‘murder for revenge’ but elimination of a political rival.
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