The mutilated body of Rajkumar Roy, who was the Presiding Officer of a booth at the Sonarpur FP School polling station in Itahar in North Dinajpur during the rural elections on 14 May, was found last night, sparking massive protests, while condemnation poured in from all quarters on Wednesday.
Roy, a resident of Chanditola in Raiganj and an assistant teacher at the Rahatpur High Madrasa School in Karandighi, had gone missing soon after his election duty was over on 14 May. The body, brutally cut into three pieces, was found lying near the railway tracks at Sonadangi in Raiganj, around 20 km away from the polling station in question.
As news and photo of the incident went viral on social media on Wednesday, more than 600 polling personnel, including high school teachers, bank employees and government employees, blocked the Ghari More on NS Road in Raiganj town in North Dinajpur for more than five hours on Wednesday.
They also blocked National Highway-34 at Siliguri More and the Raiganj Balurghat State Highway. The blockade remained until late in the evening, even as a huge traffic congestion was seen on the roads. The demonstrators demanded that the criminals who killed Roy be arrested soonest. They also demanded adequate security for them during counting of the panchayat votes on Thursday.
Raiganj sub-divisional officer TN Sherpa and deputy Magistrate Subhendu Roy turned up to meet the agitating persons. The mob, however, greeted them with brickbats and assaulted both the officials, while they splashed water on the face of Mr Sherpa and assaulted him physically.
A large contingent of police force under Additional Superintendent of Police, Nikita Phoning, reached the spot but failed to control the crowd. Election workers also blocked NH31 at the PWD More in Islampur. They also protested the district administrative officials’ instructions to count the votes by wearing helmets on their heads, and demanded adequate security at vote counting centres.
“We suspect that the criminals threw his body on the railway tracks after killing him. However, the administrative officials are trying to prove it as an accident. We demand arrest of all the criminals who killed Mr Roy. During polling on 14 May, miscreants went on the rampage and opened fire and detonated bombs at so many polling stations as there was no security at all.
They snatched ballot boxes and ballot papers after taking our polling workers at gun point. We will perform our duty, but we need proper security,” a presiding officer for the polls and the headmaster of a high school, Bipul Moitra, said.
A voter of No-48 Sonarpur FP School, Arabunda Sarkar, said, Roy was seen sipping tea at a tea stall near the polling station at around 8 pm before he went missing.
“Rajkumar Roy went missing after 1 PM from the booth on polling day. His body was found near the railway tracks at Sonadangi in Raiganj at yesterday night. We have started investigations to ascertain the cause of his death. At the polling station where he performed his duty, there was no violation of law and order,” SDO, Mr Sherpa, said. In the Siliguri sub-division, local people blocked the Fulbari-Ghoshpukur road near Phansidewa on National Highway 31, protesting Roy’s death.
A pall of gloom descended on the area, as he actually hailed from Kantibhita in the Phansidewa block. His mother, Annada Roy, said they were worried soon after they received news of him going missing.
“We spent a sleepless night for him. I do not know how the incident occurred. My son was honest and one who would protest injustice,” she said, even as she cried inconsolably. Roy’s father Priyanath Roy, a retired school teacher, said he was clueless when it came to the cause of his son’s death.
Neighbours said Roy was straight forward and would not compromise with injustice. Teachers of Siliguri- based schools also staged silent protests over the incident. The Darjeeling district SFI and DYFI too held protest marches.