Tensions have gripped Kaliachak and Baishnabhnagar areas in Malda, West Bengal, after a 24-year-old youth named, Shanaul Sheikh died two days after being beaten up by a group of people on June 26 on suspicion of involvement in a motorbike theft.
Sheikh, who was referred to Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital by doctors at Malda Medical College and Hospital after suffering injuries in his private parts, eyes and ears, died in Kolkata after his condition deteriorated. Sheikh is survived by his wife and a six-month-old daughter.
The incident came into fore after a video of Sheikh being beaten up on the suspicion of being a bike lifter went viral on social media.
The protests escalated after the body of the youth was brought back to his village, Baishnabhnagar, in Malda, on Sunday. According to police sources, hundreds of villagers, who demanded the immediate arrest of the accused, blocked NH-34 and ransacked shops and other establishments in Kaliachak.
“Protesters belonging to the minority community protested on NH 34 in Kaliachak area. They were protesting against the killing of a youth,” a police officer said, furthering that “A large contingent of the police force has been deployed in the area. The situation is peaceful now.”
On Sunday, protests were also held outside Baishnabhnagar police station.
“We have identified some people from the video. One person identified as Mithu Choudhury has been arrested”, said Sanjoy Biswas, inspector-in-charge of Baishnabnagar police station. “We have started a case under IPC sections 302, 341, 325 and 34. Efforts are on to arrest the other accused,” furthered Malda SP Aloke Rajoria.
Shanaul’s mother, Sufia stated that two ‘unknown assailants’ came on a bike to their house in Gaddipara and took her son along on Wednesday. Some locals alleged that Shanaul was brutally assaulted by the two that night. According to the family, Sanaul was stripped and hit with iron rods.
The police sprung to action after the video of the assault went viral on social media. The police reached the crime spot and rescued Shanaul, after which he was taken to Bedrabad primary health centre. The police then took him to Malda Medical College and Hospital where a CT scan revealed a blood clot in his brain. He was shifted to Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital where he was supposed to be operated on Saturday. However, Shanaul succumbed to his injuries late on Friday.
“I lost my husband a few years ago. Shanaul was my eldest son. He was the only earning member,” his mother Sufiya said, claiming that Shanaul worked in a brick kiln.
Local BJP MLA Swadhin Sarkar condemned the act and demanded that the culprits be immediately arrested and punished. He added that even though he was accused of bike theft, the people should have let the police handle the matter.
Congress leader and Sujapur MLA Isha Khan Choudhury, who met Sheikh’s family, called for peace and demanded arrest of the accused.
While Block Trinamool leader Khalilur Rahman called it a planned murder and demanded culprits to be arrested right away, several Bangla Sanskriti Mancha members visiting Shanaul’s home on Sunday demanded strict punishment for the culprits. The youth, they said, was a father to a six-month-old child. “We want punishment for the culprits,” said Md Nazim, one of the members.