Mukul Roy, 3 others booked for the murder of TMC MLA

FULBARI (NADIA): Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy was on Sunday named in the FIR as one of the accused in Saturday's murder of Krishanganj Trinamool MLA Satyajit Biswas in Fulbari, opening a fresh front in the Trinamool-BJP war of words in Bengal.

Roy, once the No. 2 person in Trinamool until he left the party for BJP in November 2017, is heading his party's election campaign strategy in Bengal. He is one of the four persons against whom Sections 302 IPC (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC have been slapped. The other three are locals - Sujit Mondal, Kartik Mondal and Abhijeet Pundari. Sujit and Kartik were arrested early on Sunday and remanded in 14 days' police custody. Abhijeet is on the run.

Biswas was shot dead just as he came down from a Saraswati Puja pandal dais. Witnesses said three people surrounded him, and one of them fired at him from point blank range, killing him on the spot. Trinamool accused BJP of masterminding the attack but BJP blamed an intra-party Trinamool feud. On Sunday, a country-made gun - possibly the murder weapon - was recovered from the spot and sent for forensic tests.

The Bengal government on Sunday suspended Biswas's personal bodyguard, Probhas Mondal - who had taken Saturday off - and the officer-incharge of the local Hanskhali police station, Anindya Bose, who did not arrange a replacement, even after knowing that the MLA's bodyguard was unavailable for the day. The two were charged with "dereliction of duty" and a departmental inquiry has been started against them. According to CID sources, Probhas had called up in the morning to say that he would be on a day's leave, but the OC did not take any steps. Locals claimed that the killers had full knowledge of this.

The state CID is also probing how the programme - attended by the entire Nadia TMC leadership and a state minister - suffered at least 11 power cuts.

Immediately after the murder, Trinamool had stepped up the heat on Roy. The party's Nadia president, Gouri Shankar Dutta, blamed Roy for conspiring to kill Biswas, even citing the "Matua factor" as a reason. Biswas, a leader from the influential Matua community, had been resisting BJP in the belt, Dutta claimed. On Sunday, urban development minister Firhad Hakim reiterated this charge. Senior state minister Partha Chatterjee, who rushed to Nadia early in the morning, said: "We demand the perpetrators and the conspirators of this murder be arrested."

CM Mamata Banerjee herself called up Biswas's wife Rupali and promised her "strong action". Rupali told police that her husband had been anxious about a local who had recently switched to BJP from Trinamool.

Roy was quick to dismiss the charges against him as "politically motivated" and claimed he was ready to face an "independent inquiry". Roy, however, claimed he wouldn't immediately seek anticipatory bail, since there was a stay order on his arrest by Calcutta HC till February 15.

The stage where Biswas was gunned down was a few hundred metres from Biswas's home. Locals claimed they had spotted Sujit, Kartik and Abhijeet fleeing the spot after the gunshot was heard.