BJP supporters hold a protest in Kolkata Monday in the wake of West Bengal MLA and party colleague Debendra Nath Roy's mysterious death | ANI
BJP supporters hold a protest in Kolkata Monday in the wake of West Bengal MLA and party colleague Debendra Nath Roy's mysterious death | ANI
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Kolkata: The circumstances of West Bengal MLA and BJP leader Debendra Nath Roy’s death Monday remain shrouded in mystery, with his family claiming murder and police citing a suicide note where he purportedly referred to financial problems.

Roy, 60, a former CPI (M) member who won from the North Dinajpur district’s Hemtabad constituency in 2016, joined the BJP last year. He was found hanging at a shop just over a kilometre away from his house in the north Bengal town of Raiganj in the small hours of Monday. 

Roy’s family has alleged that he was “called and taken” out of his house by a group of people around 1 am. His wife Chandima Roy told ThePrint that her husband went out around 1 am. She said, however, that she had not seen who came for him. 

Their nephew Pritish Chandra Roy said his uncle was “killed”. “My uncle cannot commit suicide. He was surely killed. We demand a CBI probe into it,” he added. 

Police, however, claim to have found a suicide note on Roy. “We recovered a suicide note from his pocket. He mentioned some financial issues he was into for some days,” said Raiganj superintendent of police Sumit Kumar.

“He also wrote about two men. We are investigating the matter. The body has been sent for an autopsy.” West Bengal Police also issued a statement on Twitter, saying Roy’s death prima facie appeared to be a suicide, and requesting people not to jump to “biased conclusions”.

Also Read: BJP isn’t the first to ‘politicise’ deaths in Bengal. Trinamool did same during Left rule

Shift from left to right

Roy was known among local residents as an honest and dedicated communist leader. A farmer by profession, he joined the CPI (M) in 1980. 

Roy led a humble life and was popular among people for his social work, said CPI (M) district committee secretary Apurpa Pal. 

Roy was a member of the CPI(M) zonal committee, and two-term panchayat pradhan. He made his assembly election debut in 2016. 

Hemtabad has been a CPI (M) bastion since it came into being in 2011 after a delimitation exercise.

“The party selected him as a candidate on account of his popularity and his connection with the people. In fact, in 2016, when the Trinamool Congress swept the election, he won with a 41 per cent vote share,” said Pal. 

Roy defeated his Trinamool rival by a margin of almost 13,000 votes in that election. He joined the BJP in Delhi last year, a decision that is said to have left his CPI (M) colleagues confounded.

“He never explained or informed why he joined the saffron brigade. He was a real communist leader, connected to the ground. After we got to know about his change of political allegiance, we expelled him from the party,” said Pal. 

Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the CPI (M) legislative party, said Roy “never spoke in detail, but he once hinted that he joined the BJP for political shelter”. “We had always known him as a very modest man,” he added.

Calls for a high-level investigation grow

In the hours following Roy’s death, a video purportedly showing his body hanging by a hook at a Raiganj shop went viral. The video shows one of his hands tied with a thin rope that is also believed to have been used for the noose. 

His death has sparked widespread shock, leading to calls for a high-level inquiry.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted that his autopsy should be videographed in compliance with Supreme Court guidelines. 

BJP leaders, including the party’s national president J.P. Nadda, have hinted at foul play. 

West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has demanded a high-level CBI probe into the incident. “An MLA is not safe in the state either. What can be worse than this? We have lost over 100 workers and leaders in the last two years. They were murdered, but most of these incidents were presented as suicides,” said Ghosh. 

The Trinamool Congress, however, rubbished the allegations. “He was found hanging at a shop. There was some property dispute going on. We came to know that he had to sell some portion of his land to pay his debts. Police recovered a note and they are looking into it,” said North Bengal minister Rabindranath Ghosh. 

Former Raiganj MP Mohammad Salim of the CPI (M) said “Roy was a very calm and composed person”. “He was a silent worker. The BJP claims he was murdered while police say he committed suicide. We want a high-level inquiry or a central investigation into it,” he added.

Also Read: Bombs, bullets fly as Covid-19 lockdown fails to end violence in ‘politically-charged’ Bengal


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