Dockland shooting fells city cop

Shot

Students' poll 'TMC goon fires at college election in Firad Hakim's backyard.

Twenty-eight years after IPS officer Vinod Mehta and his bodyguard were trapped and killed in the maze of lanes in Garden Reach close to the Kolkata docks, another policeman was shot dead in the criminal-dominated area on Tuesday, allegedly by a man patronised by local councillors of the Trinamool Congress.

Garden Reach, where firearms and bombs rule, is part of the assembly constituency of the powerful state Urban Development Minister Firad Hakim, who is often seen as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's No. 2. Local Trinamool leaders were present at the time of the shooting.

Assistant sub-inspector of police Tapash Choudhury was shot outside Harimohan Ghosh College, where groups of students from the Congress's Chhatra Praishad and the Trinamool's Trinamool Chhatra Parishad were clashing over the filing of nominations for the union elections.

ASI Choudhury was seen standing with other policemen close to the clashing groups before suddenly falling to the ground. His white uniform was seen rapidly turning red around the chest. He was rushed to hospital, where he was declared dead.

The election, which is believed to be almost a straight fight between the Congress and Trinamool bodies, is very important to Hakim. The Trinamool won last year, and would like to hold on to the union. The shooter's original target -- who escaped as Choudhury was hit -- could have been a Chhatra Parishad supporter who was being pushed to the ground by a throng of Trinamool workers at the moment of the firing, police said.

Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee said among the four people arrested was Sheikh Suhan, who had fired the shot. Asked for their political affiliation, Banerjee evaded a direct reply: "Whatever affiliations they have, they will be given exemplary punishment."

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