Muslim cleric shot dead in Canning

A Muslim religious leader, who has a large following in South 24-Parganas district, was shot dead in the wee hours of Tuesday at Canning while on his way to attend a religious gathering in nearby Jibantala area.

Maulana Ruhul Quddus, who was pillion riding a bike, was allegedly stopped by half dozen people near Nalekhali. It has been learnt that the group of people argued with Quddus over his speech that he had delivered in different gatherings in the past three days in the area. During the heated argument, one of them reportedly took out a gun and shot the maulana. "While Quddus died on the spot, Sirajul Morol got injured while trying to escape. He has been admitted to a hospital," said a senior police officer of Canning.

The family members of the maulana said they had no clue why he was murdered. "He had no enmity with anyone and roamed freely in the area even late in the night," said Abu Talib, the slain maulana's brother.

"Of course, he was very outspoken and his speeches were not liked by a handful of people who found it offensive.

Again, it was because of his takreer or religious preachings that many had converted to Islam. These could be the reasons," added Talib.

As the news of his death spread, around seven thousand people assembled at Ghutiari Sharif residence of Quddus and refused the police to take the body for a postmortem. "The entire area was emotionally charged. People demanded that higher officers should come and catch the assailants before they would hand over the body," said Ishrafil, Quddus' uncle.

Police had to resort to lathicharge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the irate mob. "We had considerable trouble getting the body which has now been sent for a postmortem. No arrest has been made so far," said Praveen Tripathi, SP of South 24-Parganas.

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