Dead RPF Cop was not hit by RPF’s INSAS Bullets: DRM/Malda

Malda Town (MLDT): Railway Protection Force (RPF) today claimed its jawan S Samanta was not killed from any automatic firearm used by the paramilitary jawans but by either a revolver or short gun during last Monday’s hawker mayhem in the station.

Malda Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Rajesh Argal told a press conference here that the bullet injury on Samanta’s skull indicated it was not caused by the INSAS rifle used by the force.

“Since the INSAS rifle’s range is not less than one km, the impact would have been severe and the face could have been mutilated beyond recognition,” Argal said, scotching speculation that any INSAS bullet might have accidentally hit the jawan who was standing in the camp when a mob of hawkers barged in.

Argal said the RPF jawans had fired in air 13 rounds from their INSAS rifle on that day in self-defence.

To a question, the top rail official confirmed the violence was not preceded by any hawker eviction drive in the station compound on that day but a routine move by the personnel to ask unlicensed hawkers to shift.

The paramilitary force lodged separate FIRs naming two persons and believed West Bengal Police will quickly probe the incident and unravel the circumstances, he said.

Samanta was killed and three more RPF personnel were injured on Monday when angry hawkers attacked the RPF office in the Malda station premises, pelting brickbats after one of them was barred from hawking.

Yesterday, quoting post mortem report of the Malda Hospital, a district police officer said, “Samanta died of bullet injury and not due to stones thrown at him by hawkers.”

The police are investigating who fired the bullet which hit Samanta causing his death, the police officer had added.

Trouble began at Malda station on Monday when the RPF personnel asked a hawker not to sell wares at the entrance to the station, but as the hawker protested the personnel beat him up, the police said.

A large group of hawkers then barged into the office of the RPF located near the station and pelted brickbats, prompting panicky RPF personnel to fire in air from rifle.

Railway officials said there were 632 unauthorised hawkers at the station.

Another angle

Malda Town: The Malda police chief today said a bullet from a gun that went off during a scuffle with hawkers killed the railway constable on Monday but chose to describe the cause of death as accidental.

“Monday’s incident in which an RPF jawan was killed was not a deliberate act by the hawkers. According to preliminary investigations, the jawan was carrying an assault rifle that accidentally went off during a scuffle with the mob. We are drawing up a list of those involved in the violence,” Malda police superintendent Prasun Banerjee said.

He added: “We are going through photographs and video footage. The RPF has filed a complaint naming two persons. We are investigating all angles.” The constable, Samarendra Samanta, was found dead on the premises of an RPF camp. The SP himself said the gun went off during a scuffle.

When intruders barge into a camp and scuffle with law enforcers, it is not an accident but deliberate action meant to cause harm. It is not clear why the SP still chose to describe the cause of death as accidental.

If the probe establishes that the gun did go off during the scuffle, the intruders can at best claim it was not a premeditated murder. But that does not mean a crime leading to loss of life has not been committed.

The comments by the police chief came a day after Mamata Banerjee criticised the RPF, saying the central force had not informed the state government of an hawker eviction drive.

Trinamul leaders have conceded that keeping quiet on the railway eviction drive could go against the government. Hawkers have the blessings of political parties.

Sources in Malda police said that after Mamata’s remarks yesterday, the investigators were going slow on the hawkers. “We are not going to take any steps against the hawkers unless we get a clear signal from the top,” a police officer said.

The sources said they were examining video footage showing the mob using stones and sticks to attack the RPF camp.

Yesterday, a post-mortem conducted at Malda Medical College Hospital revealed that the 35-year-old constable had died of a bullet injury.

Although more than 48 hours have passed, no one has been arrested in connection with the death of the constable or the attack on the RPF camp.

Rajesh Argal, the divisional railway manager of Malda, said: “I still cannot believe he was killed by a bullet from his own rifle. The police are investigating the case and I am confident they will uncover the truth. We are co-operating with the police. On Monday, there was no anti-hawker drive. Keeping railway stations free of unauthorised persons is routine work.”