West Bengal BJP MLA's body found hanging outside a shop, party alleges murder

Published : July 14, 2020 08:15 IST

BJP workers protesting against the alleged murder of party MLA Debendra Nath Roy, in Kolkata on July 13. Photo: PTI

With the Assembly elections less than 10 months away, the spectre of political violence has once again raised its head in West Bengal. On the morning of July 13, the body of Debendra Nath Roy, the popular Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Hemtabad in Uttar Dinajpur district, was found hanging from a ceiling outside a shuttered shop in a local marketplace. While the police claim that a suicide note was recovered from his shirt pocket, the BJP has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into what it calls a political murder. The State BJP leadership has accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of having a hand in the killing.

State BJP president and Lok Sabha MP Dilip Ghosh ruled out suicide and demanded an “independent inquiry” by the CBI, alleging the State government will never do a proper investigation. “The deeper the investigation goes, the more will be the secrets revealed and Trinamool’s involvement will come to the fore,” he said.

Debasree Chaudhuri, Union Minister of State for Woman & Child Development, pointed out that Roy was called out of his house late in the night and taken away and that his body was discovered the next morning with one hand tied. “The people in the region believe that this was not suicide and that he was killed and his body hung up. This has become the rule in West Bengal. Whoever the ruling party feels is a threat, that person is killed and hanged, and passed off as suicide,” said Chaudhuri.

The incident brought back memories of similar allegations against the ruling party in 2018, when bodies of slain BJP workers were found hanging in full public view in Purulia district. On May 30, 2018, the body of Trilochan Mahato, a local youth, was found hanging from a tree near his house in Purulia, with a message scrawled on his T-shirt: “Ebar bojh 18 bochhor boyeshey BJP kora” (This is what happens when you work for the BJP from the age of 18). Two days later, another BJP worker, Dulal Kumar, of the same district was found hanging from an electric transmission tower.

Debendra Nath Roy, who was a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) when he won the Hemtabad seat in 2016, switched over to the saffron camp in 2019. According to Biswajit Lahiri, Uttar Dinajpur district president of the BJP, Roy was a popular leader and was the face of the Rajbongshi community in the region. “This was done by the Trinamool to instill fear in the Rajbongshi community, the majority of whom are our supporters. I have worked very closely with Debendra Nath Roy and he never had any mental problems. The people of the region loved him very much. He had set up a market here and the market was locally called Deben’s Market,” Lahiri told Frontline. He said that for the past one month, the Trinamool Congress had been “putting pressure” on him to join the party. It was in the very market named after him that Roy was found hanging.

The mysterious death of Roy sent shock waves across the political circles of Bengal. “If this is the fate of a legislator, then there is really nothing left here. It is very unfortunate, but I do not think this is unusual. It is the usual thing here…. People will have to decide for how long this jungle-raj government will be allowed to continue,” said Abdul Mannan of the Congress and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly. Sujan Chakraborty, of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and leader of the Left Legislature Party, remembered his former comrade Roy as a “simple, honest man”. “Let there be no attempt to suppress facts. It is extremely important that the inquiry takes place in a transparent manner and the truth revealed. Otherwise it is very bad for our future,” said Chakraborty.

The West Bengal police posted this message on its official twitter page: “Today morning the dead body of MLA Hemtabad, Debendra Nath Roy was detected hanging from the verandah ceiling of a mobile shop at Balia, Deben More, Raigunj, Uttar Dinajpur. A suicide note is recovered from the shirt pocket of the deceased. Two persons have been named in the note as responsible for his death. All necessary steps of investigation such as use of tracker dog, visit of forensic experts are being taken. PM is yet to be done. People are requested not to jump on speculative, biased and judgmental conclusions and to wait for the investigation to complete.”

Reacting to the tweet, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar posted on his official twitter page: “Hematabad MLA ‘hanging’-Police stance at top that it is ‘suicide’ is indicative of cover up- smacks with police prejudice, not without obvious intentions. Autopsy be VIDEOGRAPHED BY EXPERT TEAM AS PER SUPREME COURT DIRECTIVES Highest TRANSPARENCY be observed @MamataOfficial.” In an earlier tweet the Governor had said: “Political violence and vendetta @MamataOfficial shows no signs of abating. Death of Debendra Nath Roy, Hemtabad MLA-Uttar Dinajpur District, raises serious issues including allegations of murder. Need for thorough impartial probe to unravel truth and blunt political violence.”