Senior Congress leader and noted businessman Prahlad Prasad, who had raised his voice against the pollution caused by coal dust in Jharkhand, was on Monday shot dead by two unidentified assailants in Latehar district's Chandwa, police said.
According to eyewitnesses, two motorcycle-borne men came close to Prasad - also known as Ladu Babu - who was playing a game of cards with friends near a garage, and pumped two bullets on his head from a close range before fleeing the spot towards Lukuiya More.
Prasad was immediately taken to the Chandwa Community Health Centre where he was declared brought dead.
Prasad, the husband of Latehar zila parishad deputy chairperson Anita Devi, had been leading a local agitation against the pollution caused by coal dust at Tori railway station and in densely populated areas of the town, around 75 km from state capital Ranchi, since September last year much to the ire of those engaged in transporting coal by railway wagon to other states.
He had protested the coal handling operations and claimed they were being conducted without meeting environmental clearance.
Prasad's killing comes shortly after protesters succeeded in getting an order against the coal transporters by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board.
Tension gripped Chandwa soon after the incident as hundreds of supporters and activists of Jan Kalyan Samiti, the body headed by Prasad, took to streets and shopkeepers closed their shops voluntarily.
The mob, already angry with the administration for not acting even after the JSPCB orders to stop operations immediately, pelted stones at the police patrol and turned a police jeep upside down to protest the alleged murder.
Police had to resort to lathi charge to control the mob and fired in the air to disperse those protesting.
Reports of arson at Tori railway station started coming in by the time of filing of this report wherein two payloaders and a generator were burnt down.